On March 29, 2017, Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, ordered that the temporary restraining order against sections 2 and 6 of President Trump’s second executive order issuing a travel ban, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” be converted to a preliminary injunction. The Trump administration filed an appeal the next day, to be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Among other things, the Hawaii court noted that the Trump Administration urged the court not to look beyond the four corners of the Executive Order and to defer to the President in the national security context. The court noted that where the historical context and sequence of events leading up to the adoption of the challenged executive order are “as full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext as is the record here, it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context.” The court declined to do so, stating, “The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has. The Supreme Court and this Circuit both dictate otherwise, and that is the law this Court is bound to follow.” The court said the requested nationwide relief from the executive order was appropriate in light of the likelihood of success of the plaintiffs’ Establishment Clause claim, since “the entirety of the Executive Order runs afoul of the Establishment Clause” where the available information supports “a commonsense conclusion that a religious objective permeated” the order.
Following the court’s ruling, Douglas Chin, Hawaii’s Attorney General, said, “This is an important affirmation of the values of religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment. With a preliminary injunction in place, people in Hawaii with family in the six affected Muslimmajority countries—as well as Hawaii students, travelers, and refugees across the world—face less uncertainty. While we understand that the President may appeal, we believe the court’s well-reasoned decision will be affirmed.”
Sean Spicer, Press Secretary for the Trump administration, said after the ruling that the Department of Justice is reviewing the ruling and “is considering the best way to defend the President’s lawful and necessary order. This ruling is just the latest step that will allow the administration to appeal. Just a week ago, the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia upheld the President’s order on the merits. The White House firmly believes that this order is lawful and necessary, and will ultimately be allowed to move forward.”
Mr. Chin’s statement, to which is appended the entire court order, is at https://ag.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/News-Release-2017-34.pdf. The second executive order that was the subject of the court action is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.