A federal judge in Washington state issued a nationwide injunction late Friday against President Donald Trump's controversial executive order on immigration—widely denounced as a travel ban targeting Muslims and refugees from war-torn states—that stirred airport protests across the U.S. last weekend and dozens of lawsuits and legal challenges throughout the week.
In Seattle, U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled in favor of a challenge brought by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who sued the Trump administration earlier this week to invalidate key provisions of the executive order that barred entry to individuals from seven Muslim-majority nations.
AG Ferguson obtains Restraining Order immediately halting Trump immigration Executive Order nationwide.— WA Attorney General (@AGOWA) February 3, 2017
"The Constitution prevailed today," Ferguson said in remarks to reporters on the federal courthouse steps after Judge Robart's ruling. "No one is above the law — not even the president."
Though the injunction only comes in the form of a "temporary restraining order" until the court can fully vet the state's challenge, the news was received with applause from those challenging the ban. According to a statement from the AG's office: "The Temporary Restraining Order will remain in place until [Robart] considers the Attorney General’s lawsuit challenging key provisions of the President’s order as illegal and unconstitutional. If Ferguson prevails, the Executive Order would be permanently invalidated nationwide."
In his ruling, Robart stated the temporary restraining order was warranted after the state successfully proved its argument that Trump's order was causing "immediate and irreparable injury"; that it would do more harm to keep it place than to halt it; and that the state had additionaly proven its substantial likelihood of success in challenging the constitutionality of the travel ban.
"The executive order adversely affects the states' residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel," Robart stated in his written ruling. "These harms are significant and ongoing."
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Though the White House immediately vowed to appeal the decision, and sought an immediate stay against Robart's restraining order, legal experts and opponents of the travel restrictions immediately praised the decision as an important legal victory and stinging rebuke of Trump's position.
"This ruling further demonstrates that the Executive Order was not adequately thought out," said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which opposed the ban. "The Order should be paused and existing vetting and visa systems, which have proved their worth, should be left in place."
On the immediate implications, the Seattle Times reports how:
Jorge Barón, director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said he was advising people who have been stranded outside the United States because of the ban to use Robart’s ruling to try to return. But, he also cautioned it’s a very fluid situation.
"You might get on a plane and there might be a different ruling in the middle, we warn people that there’s a chance of that happening," Barón said. "At the same time, I’d also want to make sure that people who are trying to be reunified with their families are taking advantage of this ruling.”
Given a separate ruling in Massachusetts earlier on Friday, it's quite possible that the disparate challenges to Trump's order could ultimately end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.