President Trump’s Travel Restriction Hits Appeals Court

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The fierce battle over President Donald Trump’s travel and refugee ban edged up the judicial escalator Monday, headed for a possible final face-off at the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department has filed a brief with a federal appeals court in support of the president’s travel and refugee ban. The document was filed Monday with the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The filing says the Trump administration executive order that bans travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations is a “lawful exercise” of presidential authority. A federal judge in Washington state put the order on hold Friday.

Federal government lawyers say the ruling by the judge, James Robart, was overly broad and should be overruled.

The filing with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was to be the latest salvo in a high-stakes legal fight surrounding Mr. Trump’s order, which was halted Friday by a federal judge in Washington state.

The appeals court 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 federal appellate court has scheduled telephone oral arguments for Tuesday afternoon.

Whatever the outcome, 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.

The president’s executive order has faced legal uncertainty ever since Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart, which challenged both Trump’s authority and his ability to fulfill a campaign promise.