Federal US District Court judges in two states issued rulings March 15-16 temporarily halting implementation of the new travel ban to the US ordered by US President Donald Trump on March 6. The travel ban, a revised, narrower version of the previous executive order that was blocked in February by US federal courts, was to go into effect March 16.

A federal judge in Hawaii issued the first nationwide order blocking the travel ban on March 15, just hours before the ban—which would temporarily exclude citizens without already-issued visas from six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the US for 90 days—was set to start.

A second federal judge in Maryland issued an injunction against the ban early March 16.

In both rulings, the judges cited statements made during the election campaign by then-presidential candidate Trump and his advisors calling for a Muslim ban as evidence of the unconstitutional nature of both travel ban executive orders.

Hawaii US District Court Judge Derrick Watson, writing in the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued March 15, said “Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude, as does the Court for purposes of the instant motion for TRO, that the stated secular purpose of the executive order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.”

The Hawaii District Court is part of the US 9th Circuit; appeals to the ruling will have to go through the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In remarks made at a March 15 political rally in Nashville, Tennessee, President Trump said the Hawaii District Court’s ruling was “unprecedented judicial overreach … we’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

Mark Nensel mark.nensel@penton.com