13 judges to hear revised Trump travel ban case


The Trump administration's challenge to Watson's ruling will be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle next Monday.

Of the 13 judges remaining, three are Republican appointees and nine are Democratic appointees.

Following the successful confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump is expected to name new nominees to the federal bench on Monday, a White House official confirmed, in a move to fill almost 130 federal court vacancies.

It's the first time an appeals court has heard arguments on the revised travel ban, which was issued in March.

Almost two months ago, a federal judge in Maryland imposed a nationwide halt to the core portion of the President's revised executive order that sought to bar foreign nationals from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

A source familiar with the case tells CNN that Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III - a Reagan appointee and one of the most highly respected judges on the court - has recused himself from the case because his son-in-law and former law clerk, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall, will be representing the Trump administration at Monday's hearing.

Much like the fight over Trump's first (and now-withdrawn) order, the hearing will likely center on whether Trump's campaign promise to enact a "Muslim ban" betrays the stated objective to keep the country safe.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, representing the challengers, said in court papers that Trump's comments before the election can not be ignored. That call, which was still online earlier Monday, appeared to have been taken down by the afternoon hearing. "Is this a national security case or is this an immigration case?"

"The order is completely unprecedented in our nation's history", Jadwat said.

Chuang argued Trump's past comments showed the order was meant to discriminate against Muslims.

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"Can we look at his college speeches?" The first, issued on January 27, led to chaos and protests at airports before being blocked by courts.

After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his immigration ban, Trump emphatically tweeted last February "SEE YOU IN COURT!"

The new version made it clear the 90-day ban covering those six countries doesn't apply to those who already have valid visas.

At stake is one of Trump's big policy moves on a campaign promise to close down the United State's borders to the country safer from terrorists.

But critics said while the new executive order impacts fewer people, it remains a realization of Trump's promised Muslim ban and can not stand.

The ACLU and National Immigration Law Center brought the case on behalf of several organizations, as well as people who live in the US and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries.

If both appeals courts rule in the Trump administration's favor, the temporary travel ban would be allowed as enforceable. But President Barack Obama dramatically changed its makeup, pulling the 4th Circuit to the center.

Trump's administration says the court should focus on the text of the executive order, which doesn't mention religion.

Normally, such an appeal from a district court's decision would be heard by a randomly assigned panel of three judges, and the losing party may ask for it to be reheard by the full court. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will meet next Monday to hear arguments in that case. Wilkinson's daughter is married to the acting solicitor general.