The Justice Department argued Tuesday that a federal appeals court should overturn a district court judge’s order halting President Trump’s executive action suspending travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim nations.
The hearing before the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges was the greatest legal challenge yet to the travel ban, which has upended travel to the U.S. for more than a week and tested the new administration’s use of executive power.
Several states have fought the ban on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen — and insisted that it is unconstitutional.
Justice Department attorney August Flentje asked the court to restore Trump’s order, contending that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, as well as suspend classes of aliens when their entry to the country is otherwise detrimental to national security.
“That’s what the president did here,” Flentje argued.
The government described the executive order as a “90-day pause” needed to ensure adequate standards were in place for visa screening, which Flentje called “plainly constitutional.”