Two federal judges have blocked President Donald Trump's new executive order that seeks to ban refugees and travelers from six Muslim majority countries.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order against the travel ban in response to a lawsuit by the state of Hawaii, Religion News Service reported. The judge stated that "a reasonable, objective observer ... would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion."
A preliminary nationwide injunction was issued against the executive order by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang on Thursday in a similar case in Maryland.
Chuang noted that the refugee resettlement agencies that filed the case were likely to succeed in proving that the travel ban portion of the order was intended to be a ban on Muslims, which would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution's religious freedom protection.
"To avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental constitutional principle at the core of our nation's identity plainly serves a significant public interest," Chuang wrote in his ruling.
Trump decried Watson's ruling at a Nashville rally on Wednesday, saying the blocked executive order was a "watered-down" version of the previous travel ban.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the administration plans to appeal the Maryland decision to the 4th Circuit of Appeals and will seek "clarification" on Watson's ruling before bringing the case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Three judges on the Ninth Circuit court upheld a ruling by a Washington state judge that blocked the first travel ban.
In contrast to the first executive order, the revised travel ban has removed Iraq from the list of banned countries. It also exempted travelers who have green cards and visas and removed a provision prioritizing certain religious minorities.
The new executive order, which was supposed to take effect on Thursday, would have prevented travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.
Watson noted that the freeze on the revised travel ban was only temporary, but he concluded that the changes between the first and the second executive orders were not enough. The judge said that he intends to set an expedited hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order against the travel ban should be extended.