Thursday, February 09, 2017

State of Washington v. Trump (9th Cir. - Feb. 9, 2017)

I don't typically spill a lot of (virtual) ink on Ninth Circuit decisions that are already going to receive a fair amount of public attention.  The Ninth Circuit's just-issued per curiam opinion regarding President Trump's executive immigration order will definitely receive the requisite attention.

I'll only mention that justice came (incredibly) swiftly in this case -- and rightly so -- and that the opinion is comprehensive and moderate in both scope and tone.  It's an impressive work product given the rapid deadlines the Ninth Circuit placed itself under.

That said, my educated guess that this particular opinion was given more than the typical amount of attention and priority in chambers, no?

The hard part of the government's case was that the scope of the ban was incredibly broad and, at times, shifting (e.g., its applicability to lawful permanent residents).  The Ninth Circuit (rightly) didn't feel like rewriting the order itself on the fly, and (rightly) didn't trust the non-binding interpretation of the order given by particular White House officials.  Hence the decision on the Due Process Clause.

Going forward, the hardest part of the plaintiff's case remains the validity of the order with respect to people who've never been in the United States, since those individuals have more limited rights under the Due Process Clause.  There's still an Establishment Clause claim there, but in my view, the Ninth Circuit correctly (implicitly) recognized that this was a weaker claim that the Due Process argument, so sidestepped it.  For now.

Rapid -- and much-needed -- justice, however.