Third judge could block revised Trump travel ban

Another judge is expressing doubt about the legality of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban executive order and signaling she might block it herself if the administration succeeds in its appeals of other injunctions currently blocking key parts of the directive.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanka Chutkan, who sits in Washington, D.C., said in an order Thursday that she believes Iranian-American groups and individuals are likely to prevail in a pair of lawsuits they brought challenging Trump’s March order suspending the issuance of visas to six majority-Muslim countries and blocking new admissions of refugees from around the globe.

“The court is inclined to agree with Plaintiffs that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims with respect to Sections 2 and 6 of the Second Executive Order,” wrote Chutkan, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

The judge did not indicate in her order why she believes Trump’s directive is illegal, nor did she say whether she believes it is unconstitutional or contrary to other provisions of law.

However, Chutkan said she was staying the Iranian-Americans’ request for an injunction because of the two injunctions already in place: one from a judge in Maryland and another from a judge in Hawaii. The 4th Circuit heard arguments Monday on the Maryland injunction.

The 9th Circuit is set to hear arguments next Monday on the Hawaii injunction. Both are global in scope, although the Hawaii injunction blocks more of Trump’s directive than the Maryland order, which focuses solely on the six-country visa ban.

Chutkan said she’d wait to see what happens with those appeals before issuing her ruling.

“In the event that both existing injunctions are overturned, this court is prepared to issue a ruling without delay,” she wrote.

A lawyer pressing the suit, Cyrus Mehri, welcomed the judge’s indication that she views the travel ban as illegal but expressed disappointment that his clients didn’t win immediate relief.

“We are pleased that Judge Chutkan wrote that she believes that the travel ban is likely unlawful,” Mehri said in a statement. “Judge Chutkan is seriously troubled by the government’s actions and is ready to step in if any existing injunction is rolled back. …. We would have preferred for the Court to rule on other key issues in the case, such as the ongoing irreparable harm that the organizations and individual plaintiffs continue to suffer. We will continue to vigorously prosecute this case.”

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