By Sudhin Thanawala
February 15, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO — The state of Texas on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations as an assertion of presidential authority intended to protect the country from terrorists, splitting with states that have denounced the order as a religious attack.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed documents asking the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision not to immediately reinstate the ban.
“Every state has a substantial interest in the health and welfare of their citizens, but the states must rely on the federal executive to determine when the entry of aliens should be suspended for public-safety reasons,” Paxton wrote.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit last week refused to block a lower-court decision that suspended the ban. They rejected the Trump administration’s claim of presidential authority, questioned its motives and concluded that his executive order was unlikely to survive the legal challenge by the states of Washington and Minnesota.
Eighteen other states, including California and New York, supported the challenge.
The appeals court will decide whether to have a larger panel of judges reconsider the decision. It has asked the Trump administration and Washington and Minnesota to file arguments by Thursday on whether more judges should hear the case.
The three-judge panel said the states had raised “serious” allegations that the ban targets Muslims. The judges also rejected the federal government’s argument that courts did not have the authority to review the president’s immigration and national security decisions.
They said the Trump administration presented no evidence that any foreigner from the seven countries was responsible for a terrorist attack in the U.S. Courts also could consider statements by Trump and his advisers about wishing to enact a travel ban, the 9th Circuit panel found.
Texas argued Wednesday that the panel failed to consider the president’s authority to suspend immigration that Congress has delegated to the office and wrongly extended constitutional rights to foreigners.
Trump’s executive order targeted specific nationalities, not a religion, and the states could not support their legal challenge with the president’s campaign statements, Texas said.
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