The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously affirmed on Feb. 9, a lower court’s ruling obtained by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which blocks President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on immigration.
“No one is above the law, not even the president,” Ferguson said. “The president should withdraw this flawed, rushed, and dangerous Executive Order, which caused chaos across the country. If he refuses, I will continue our work to hold him accountable to the Constitution.”
Members of the Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit, including Unit Chief Colleen Melody and Assistant Attorneys General Patricio Marquez and Marsha Chien, handled the case — along with Solicitor General Noah Purcell, Deputy Solicitor General Anne Egeler, and Solicitor General’s Office Fellow Kelly Paradis.
The Unit was created by Ferguson to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The Unit investigates and brings action to end discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, education, credit and insurance transactions, and at government offices and businesses open to the public.
The unanimous ruling means that citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries will continue to be able to travel to the United States. It is a significant political setback to Trump’s new administration and raises questions about how the courts will view his apparent vision for an expansive use of executive power from the Oval Office on which he is anchoring the early weeks of his presidency.
Trump immediately tweeted his reaction to the ruling: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
The administration has not announced its next step, but Trump has previously indicated that he would take the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, a move that would set up a legal showdown of even higher stakes and visibility.
Given that the Supreme Court currently lacks its ninth member, there’s a real chance of a 4-4 split on the bench along ideological lines, which would have the effect of affirming the ruling of the 9th Circuit, inflicting a more permanent blow to the new administration.
It is heartening to see the courts check and balance Trump. It sends a powerful message about the balance of power enshrined in the Constitution establishing three equal branches of government, a system that will serve as a check on his presidency.
This case demonstrates that, like democracy itself, our country’s complex system of governance is better than its alternatives.