Just hours before President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries was set to go into effect, a US federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday issued an emergency halt to the order’s implementation.
A second federal judge in Maryland, too, issued a separate block on just the core provision concerning travel from the Muslim world, ruling it would cause “irreparable harm” were it to go into effect.
But a defiant Trump has pledged to appeal to the US Supreme Court if necessary to fight for his revised travel ban, parts of which were halted by these federal judges.
He had said that the legal block “makes us look weak” and represented “unprecedented judicial overreach”.
The Justice Department's first step would likely be filing an appeal in either or both of the cases, an action likely to come within days. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on the administration's intentions.
The new ban, signed by the President on 6 March, had aimed to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February.
Trump has said the policy is critical for national security and does not discriminate against any religion.
US District Judge Derrick Watson put an emergency stop to the new order in response to a lawsuit filed by the state of Hawaii, which argued that the order discriminated against Muslims in violation of the US Constitution.
Judge Watson concluded in his ruling that while the order did not mention Islam by name, “a reasonable, objective observer... would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavour a particular religion.” Watson was appointed to the bench by former Democratic President Barack Obama.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters. The article has been updated.)