Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Thursday upheld the nationwide injunction blocking President Donald Trump's executive order to close U.S. borders to certain immigrants and refugees worldwide.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced its decision late Thursday afternoon, two days after it heard arguments from government and plaintiffs' attorneys.
The court unanimously ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, by a vote of 3-0, which allows the restraining order to continue while a federal judge further evaluates the order's legality.
"Our decision is guided by four questions: Whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and where the public interest lies," the court wrote in its 29-page ruling.
"We conclude that the government has failed to clear each of the first two critical steps. We also conclude that the final two factors do not militate in favor of a stay."
The decision is a major victory for opponents of the ban and a major defeat for the president's administration.
Trump was quick to respond to the ruling on Twitter Thursday evening.
"See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake!" his tweet said.
The order, signed by the president Jan. 27, temporarily suspends U.S. entry for refugees worldwide and bars U.S. travel for immigrants of seven predominantly Muslim countries -- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen -- for 90 days.
The Justice Department argued to the court Tuesday that the executive action should not be subject to judicial review because the president of the United States has broad legal authority granted by the Constitution and Congress to act in the national interest.
"There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy," the court said in its ruling Thursday. "Within our system, it is the role of the judiciary to interpret the law."
Trump and his administration have said repeatedly that the temporary ban is a security action intended to give the government time to assess a permanent travel and visa policy for migrants.
The opponents in the case, the states of Washington and Minnesota, argued that Trump's order is discriminatory toward Muslims and stands to cause irreparable harm to the country, individual states, and to the refugees and immigrants themselves.
"We also note the serious nature of the allegations the states have raised with respect to their religious discrimination claims," the court said. "We express no view as to any of the states' other claims."
The case is expected to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, which remains at eight members. It's unclear when Trump's high court nominee, federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch, will receive consideration or confirmation by the Senate. It's also unknown whether Gorsuch will be seated before the court hears and rules on the case involving Trump's immigration order.
Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Gorsuch told him he was "disheartened" by remarks Trump made last week toward the Seattle judge who granted a national injunction against the president's order.
"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Trump tweeted after the injunction.