A US appeals court has rejected a bid to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said it would not block a lower-court ruling that halted the order.
Mr Trump responded with an angry tweet saying national security was at risk and he would “see you in court”.
But in a unanimous ruling, the court said the government had not proved the terror threat justified the ban.
“The government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States,” it said.
It also rejected the argument that the president had sole discretion to set immigration policy.
“Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the executive order, the government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all,” said the ruling. “We disagree, as explained above.”
Trump tweeted: See you in which court.
Donald Trump’s lawyers did not make their case. In fact, according to three Ninth Circuit judges, they didn’t even really try to make their case. Rather than explaining why the temporary travel ban was needed, the administration argued that the president’s authority on immigration was so sweeping that they didn’t have to explain why the order was necessary.
According to the court, the government was unable to say why Mr Trump’s ban addressed a pressing national security threat that a temporary stay of the order would worsen. The lawyers for the challenging states, on the other hand, convinced the judges that re-imposing the order at this point would create further chaos by infringing on the due process rights of those on US soil, regardless of their immigration status.
By issuing a unanimous, unsigned opinion, the judges avoid accusations of partisan bias, as one of the three was a Republican appointee.
Mr Trump tweeted a sharp “SEE YOU IN COURT” following the decision – but which court?
An appeal to the Supreme Court seems likely, although a better move for the president may be to fight in the lower court until Judge Neil Gorsuch joins a conservative majority on the bench.
Mr Trump responded to the ruling by tweeting, in block capital letters: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
The Justice Department, which made representations to the appeals court on behalf of the White House, said in a statement it was “reviewing the decision and considering its options”.
The executive order, at the end of his first week in office, sparked protests and confusion as people were stopped at US borders.
Lawyers representing the US government had argued that the ban was a “lawful exercise” of presidential authority.
But two US states said the ban was unconstitutional and discriminated against Muslims.
The case is now likely to end up at the highest court, the US Supreme Court.
Twitter reacted swiftly to the 9th Circuit Court rejected bid to reinstate Trump’s travel ban. Here are some tweets…
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) February 9, 2017
Thank you, 9th Circuit! pic.twitter.com/ZsQVoUUiFD
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) February 9, 2017
9th Circuit upheld stay of executive order! Any way you “so-call” it, this is a victory for religious liberty and the separation of powers.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 9, 2017
The 9th Circuit voted unanimously against Trump’s travel ban. Let’s go live to the White House for a reaction. pic.twitter.com/poThSdP05Z
— shauna (@goldengateblond) February 10, 2017
— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) February 10, 2017
Congress has meekly submitted before Trump. The Courts are making damn clear they won’t: https://t.co/PLdEtFhpmV
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) February 10, 2017