In a unanimous ruling handed down on Thursday, three judges on a federal appeals court declined to reinstate President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.
All three judges serving on the panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided to uphold a ruling from a lower court that temporarily halted the administration from enforcing the ban nationwide.
Thursday’s ruling means that people from the seven Muslim-majority countries singled out in Trump’s executive order — many of whom have been separated from their family members after the ban barred them from the United States — may continue to enter the country.
The judges noted there is no evidence that restricting migration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen is necessary for national security, as the Trump administration has argued to justify the policy. “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States,” they wrote.
The order also points out the United States’ interest in national security needs to be balanced with the public’s interest “in free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination.”
The president was quick to respond to the ruling on Twitter.
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
The Trump administration could immediately appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. But without a ninth justice on the bench, the country’s highest court would be expected to split 4–4, along partisan lines — and a split decision would ultimately uphold the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
Trump has indicated he will aggressively fight to implement his Muslim ban. Just three days after signing the executive order into law, he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates because she refused to enforce it.
This piece has been updated to include more information from the order.