By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA): President Donald Trump was dealt a resounding legal blow on Wednesday when a federal judge in Hawaii agreed to place a temporary nationwide freeze on his revised travel ban.
The 90-day ban on new visas for residents of six Muslim-majority countries was set to go into effect just hours before Judge Derrick Watson issued the restraining order.
Many have criticized the revised version for being another “Muslim ban”. It will now be unable to go into effect on its intended date.
Hawaii had argued that the new ban would damage its bustling tourism industry, and its public university system.
Trump slammed the ruling as “unprecedented judicial overreach.
“You don’t think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you? No,” he said sarcastically while addressing supporters in Nashville, Tennessee.
“This ruling makes us look weak, which, by the way we no longer are — believe me.”
The administration will take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, Trump said.
In his 43-page ruling, Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the District of Hawaii, said the administration’s defense of the ban on the grounds of its religiously neutral language and geographic limitations is lacking.
As he heard oral arguments from both sides earlier Wednesday, Watson reportedly appeared skeptical of the government’s claim that the president’s prior statements promising a Muslim ban should be omitted from the case.
“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable,” he wrote. “The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.
“Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries. It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%,” he wrote.
“It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam,” added Watson.
Watson said Hawaii has a “strong likelihood of success” on its case that Trump’s order violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which protects against religious discrimination.
The decision comes just over a week after Trump signed the new executive order into effect on March 6, seeking to make it more legally sound by narrowing the original’s focus while dropping some of its most controversial details.
The new version excludes Iraq — designated in the original — while halting new visas for residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It further stops all refugees from coming to the U.S. for 120 days, and more than halves the number of asylum seekers who would be granted U.S. entry this year.
[Photo: Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the District of Hawaii. Photo by United States District Court for the District of Hawaii/Public Domain]