The US government on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s travel ban as a “lawful exercise” of his authority, and claimed that a federal court made a mistake in barring enforcement of the measure.
“The executive order is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees,” read a brief filed by justice department lawyers to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The district court therefore erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order. But even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” it said.
The government again asked that the ban be reinstated. A hearing has been set in the case for Tuesday at 3:00 pm Pacific time (2300 GMT).
A randomly selected panel of appellate judges will hear arguments on Tuesday.
The appeals court earlier refused to immediately reinstate the ban, and lawyers for Washington and Minnesota — two states challenging it — argued anew on Monday that any resumption would “unleash chaos again,” separating families and stranding university students.
The justice department said the travel ban, which temporarily suspends the country’s refugee program and immigration from seven countries with terrorism concerns, was intended “to permit an orderly review and revision of screening procedures to ensure that adequate standards are in place to protect against terrorist attacks.”
The challengers of the ban, the department wrote, were asking “courts to take the extraordinary step of second-guessing a formal national security judgment made by the president himself pursuant to broad grants of statutory authority.”
Whatever the appeals court decides, either side could ask the Supreme Court to intervene.
It could prove difficult, though, to find the necessary five votes at the high court to undo a lower court order; the Supreme Court has been at less than full strength since justice Antonin Scalia’s death a year ago. The last immigration case that reached the justices ended in a 4-4 tie.