PORTLAND, Ore. – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides Tuesday afternoon in an appeal of a Seattle judge's ruling that temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's travel ban.
The hearing for State of Washington v. Trump gave lawyers for President Donald Trump and Washington state 30 minutes each to state their arguments to three judges over the phone.
The Justice Department wants the federal appeals court to reinstate the ban blocking travelers from seven primarily Muslim countries, as well as all refugees. The Seattle judge granted a temporary restraining order, halting the ban nationwide.
Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell argued the case on behalf of Washington and Minnesota, which joined the lawsuit. August Flentje, Special Counsel to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General, argued on behalf of Trump.
Purcell argued the travel ban hurt thousands of Washington state residents by keeping families apart and preventing students trying to travel to the state.
Purcell argued legal precedent had been set by past cases including Din vs. Kerry, another immigration case involving visa denial.
He also argued that it's remarkable to have this much evidence of discriminatory intent this early in the case. He mentioned Trump's campaign statements about a Muslim ban and public statements from adviser Rudy Giuliani that he was asked to help devise a legal version of the Muslim ban.
Flentje said judges should not take campaign statements into consideration. He argued the president has the right to assess the risk to national security.
He said the president chose the seven countries based on determinations by Congress and President Obama in the last two years. Flentje denied the ban was based on religious affiliation.
He argued residents from the seven blocked countries could be connected to terrorism. When asked for specifics, he said some Somalis in the U.S. were connected to the al-Shabab terrorist group. He said the case was moving fast but the government had not yet included evidence to support the president's ban.
Flentje asked the court to grant a stay of the injunction on the travel ban, or at least limit the restraining order to just Washington state.
A ruling is expected later this week.
Oregon asks to join lawsuit
On Monday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum asked Washington’s Attorney General to add Oregon to its lawsuit against Trump's executive order.
The announcement came four days after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown instructed Rosenblum to legally oppose the order.
Trump said the executive order keeps terrorists out of the country. Critics have called it a "Muslim ban" that puts thousands of refugees at risk.
The lawsuit is a restraining order that seeks to halt implementation of the ban.
Minnesota already joined the lawsuit on Feb. 1. Rosenblum said Oregon could join the lawsuit as soon as Tuesday, Feb. 7. Oregon did not join the lawsuit before the appeal hearing.
“By joining Washington, we will be able to share legal resources with our neighboring state and at the same time ensure that the voices of Oregonians harmed by the President's executive order are heard,” Rosenblum said.
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order banning immigration from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
On Jan. 30, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the order was unconstitutional.
On Feb. 3, a federal judge in Seattle then granted a temporary restraining order, which temporarily halted implementation of the ban.
Rosenblum explained that she expects the appellate court to uphold the restraining order and it will likely be sent to trial court in Washington state.
"We want to be ready to help in any way we can to establish the permanent illegality of the Executive Order," she said.
Oregon also joined 15 other states in filing an “amicus brief,” or friend of the court, in support of the lawsuit.
Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia also joined the amicus brief.
The immigration ban reportedly kept thousands of refugees from entering the United States. In Oregon, a four-month-old baby was unable to travel to Portland for life-saving treatment at Oregon Health and Science University prior to the temporary halt of the travel ban. The baby arrived in Portland on Feb. 7. Other refugees also traveled to Oregon during the temporary reprieve.
Trump has said the ban is constitutional and his administration will fight the lawsuit.
John Tierney, Jared Cowley and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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