Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled that President Trump's controversial immigration order, also known as the “Muslim ban”, will remain suspended for the time being, allowing those previously banned from coming to the U.S. at least another day to get here.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit preserves a lower judge's order to temporarily halt the ban - and based on a schedule the court outlined - the stop will remain in place at least until sometime Monday. The Justice Department said it would not elevate the dispute to the Supreme Court before that.
The next several days will be vital for the future of the president's executive order. The appeals court asked those challenging the ban to file written arguments by 2 a.m. Central on Monday, and Justice Department lawyers to reply by 6 p.m. CT. They could then schedule a hearing, or rule whether the ban should remain on hold.
In the meantime, people who had been stranded in legal limbo remain able to enter and exit the United States normally.
What likely lies ahead is a weeks-long legal battle that will be waged in various courtrooms across the country over whether the ban can pass legal muster. Federal courts in New York, California and elsewhere have blocked aspects of the ban from being implemented, though one federal judge in Massachusetts declared he did not think challengers had demonstrated they had a high likelihood of success. The lawsuits now appear trough out the country, and the number seems to grow daily.
Several federal judges have ruled against the administration on its implementation of the ban, though the case now before the 9th Circuit is perhaps the most significant one. It stems from a lawsuit brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota, which alleged the immigration order was "separating families, harming thousands of the States' residents, damaging the States' economies, hurting State-based companies, and undermining both States' sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees."
In that case, responding to those arguments, US District Court Judge James Robart (GW Bush appointee) temporarily halted the ban on Friday. Then 9th Circuit Judges William C. Canby Jr., who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Michelle Taryn Friedland, who was appointed by Barack Obama, denied the Justice Department's request on Sunday to immediately restore it.
The Justice Department could have gone straight to the Supreme Court, but a Justice Department spokesman said it would not do so.
While the losing side may still request intervention from the Supreme Court, it would take the votes of five justices to overturn the panel decision. The court has been shorthanded since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago, and it is ideologically divided between four liberal and four conservative members.