A trio of courts once again handed Donald Trump’s immigration order legal setbacks on Wednesday and Thursday. In Hawaii, federal Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order against the law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced Thursday night that it would not hold an en banc hearing, meaning one with all judges on the court seated, to reconsider its earlier ruling against the law. And Thursday morning, a federal judge in Maryland temporarily blocked the portion of the order that bars immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries.
But this wasn’t quite a replay of the resounding defeat that Trump received after round 1 of the battle. The first executive order that emerged from the White House was almost universally acknowledged to be sloppy, careless, and not up to legal standard, and it came as a little surprise when courts rejected it. So the White House went back to the drawing board, redrafting the order in a way that was designed to pass muster in court.
What is unusual about the rulings in Hawaii and Maryland is how heavily they rely on statements made outside of court, and in particular on statements made by senior Trump aide Stephen Miller during press interviews. In the legal arena, the Trump administration presented itself as withdrawing its first order and issuing a second one, relying on different constitutional bases. But publicly, Trump aides were insisting that the new order achieved the same thing as the first one.