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Federal judge favors Washington’s case against Trump travel ban

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks to the press shortly after a federal judge in Seattle ruled that the state's case against President Trump's executive order (travel ban) has standing. (Mike Lewis KIRO Radio)

A federal judge has ruled that Washington state’s case against President Donald Trump’s recent travel ban has standing, putting a halt to the president’s executive order.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robarts ruled in favor of the case brought by Washington, and requested a restraining order against the president’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries. The ruling does not come down against the executive order itself — judging if it is constitutional. Rather, it favors Washington’s request for an immediate, temporary halt to the travel ban. It also confirms Washington’s case that the executive order has harmed the state, and moves the case forward.

“The Constitution prevailed today,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said after the decision. “No one is above the law — not even the President.”

Related: Travelers detains at Sea-Tac following Trump executive order

Washington state argues that the travel ban is illegal and unconstitutional. Robarts will consider those aspects of the executive order as the case moves forward. If Washington is successful in its lawsuit, the executive order will be invalidated nationally.

As for now, judge’s decision Friday will halt the travel ban nationally as the case continues.

According to an attorney general press release shortly after the decision:

To obtain the Temporary Restraining Order, the state needed to prove that its underlying lawsuit was likely to succeed, that irreparable harm was likely to occur without the restraining order, and that halting the President’s order immediately is in the public interest. The state also needed to establish that the potential injury to Washington residents caused by leaving the President’s order in place outweighs any potential damage from halting it.

Considerations of the travel ban

Judge Robarts complimented the Department of Justice on the quality of its brief on the case. The DOJ argued that Washington’s case has no standing, or injury because of case-by-case waivers included in the executive order. The DOJ argued that the president is granted broad powers over immigration. The federal lawyer said that the ban does not target any religion, but favors those facing religious persecution.

Attorney Noah Purcell argued the case for the state.

“I did say at one point the Department of Justice’s argument was frightening,” Purcell said. “And the argument was, essentially, that if the president says, ‘I’m doing this in national security interest,’ then a court cannot review if that was the real reason, or if there is any rational reason for the president’s action. Our view is that’s not the law. That’s a scary view of the law. Luckily, the judge rejected that idea.”

While hearing arguments, Judge Robarts stated that he must decide if Trump’s executive order is “rationally based” in facts. The DOJ, however, disagreed that was necessary.

The state argued that the Trumps’ travel ban harms Washington economically. It cited issues with college students being unable to travel. It also pointed out that businesses are harmed by the travel ban, as well as tourism.

Judge Robarts was appointed to the district position by Republican President George W. Bush in 2003.

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