SAN FRANCISCO –A US federal appeals court heard oral arguments Tuesday about one of President Donald Trump’s executive orders but withheld an immediate decision on the travel ban imposed on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
A three-judge panel from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals questioned August E. Flentje, special counsel to the assistant US attorney general on behalf of the Trump administration, and Noah G. Purcell, solicitor general of Washington State, on behalf of the states of Washington and Minnesota.
As Flentje reiterated that it is the president’s authority to limit the entry of foreign nationals on national security grounds, the judges asked him to provide evidence connecting those barred from entry with terrorism.
The representative of Washington and Minnesota states was also grilled by judges over the two states’ defiance of Trump’s travel ban. One judge asked Purcell if the Seattle judge’s suspension of Trump’s ban was “overboard.”
Purcell alleged the travel ban was unconstitutional because it was motivated to target people with a specific religious belief. Then he was asked by the judges to substantiate his claim with evidence other than the president’s public statements.
The hearing was streamed online and the record was posted on the court’s website.
The court said at the end of the hearing that it would give a ruling as soon as possible within the week.
Both sides have attracted support from some groups and entities, including a number of US technology companies such as Apple, Google and other top names fighting Trump’s ban.
In front of the entrance of the James R. Browning US Courthouse in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday, some people were protesting against the travel ban, with one of them covering herself with national flags of Muslim-majority countries and locking herself within a cage.
Trump issued an executive order on January 27, barring travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees from entering the country for 120 days.
The order has prompted widespread protests across the United States. On February 3, federal judge James Robart in Seattle, Washington state, ruled to suspend Trump’s travel ban nationwide, effective immediately. Then the Department of Justice appealed to restore Trump’s ban before the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.