The Department of Justice has filed a brief with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, responding to a legal challenge to President Trump's executive order on immigration.
The court is set to hear oral arguments by phone on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET, in the next critical legal test of whether the president's decision to ban travel by people from seven Muslim-majority countries and halt refugee resettlement in the U.S. will be upheld.
In their brief, Justice Department lawyers write that the executive order is "a lawful exercise of the President's authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees."
Last Friday, Judge James Robart, a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington state, imposed a nationwide temporary restraining order against the order. That decision effectively blocked the implementation of the travel ban, and now the Justice Department is seeking to reinstate it. On Saturday, the 9th Circuit denied the Justice Department's request to stay the suspension and allow enforcement of the ban to continue.
Lawyers for Washington state had argued that the executive order hurt residents and businesses in Washington, along with students and faculty in the state university system. The state also argued the ban is unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims.
The White House has countered that the executive order does not mention any faith group by name and that the president has broad powers when it comes to national security and immigration.
In its brief, the Justice Department also argues that Robart's decision in the district court was "vastly overbroad, extending far beyond the State's legal claims to encompass numerous applications of the Order that the State does not even attempt to argue are unlawful."
Trump took aim at Robart over the weekend on Twitter, diminishing him as a "so-called judge" whose decision "is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Robart was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.