White House

Ex-spies, high-tech firms and Hawaii join challenge to Trump travel ban

President Donald Trump tucks away his notes near the conclusion of a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Jan. 27, 2017.
President Donald Trump tucks away his notes near the conclusion of a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Jan. 27, 2017. AP

Add Hawaii to the roster of states fighting President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order blocking citizens of seven Muslim nations from entering the United States.

In a late-night legal flurry, Hawaii joined high-tech companies, national security experts and a host of other interested parties in filing briefs supporting the challenge brought by the states of Minnesota and Washington. Hawaii, in seeking to become part of the challenge as an intervenor, contended the executive order harmed the state in multiple ways.

“It halted tourism from the banned countries, and chilled tourism from many more, threatening one of the pillars of the state’s economy,” the state’s brief says. “It prevented a number of Hawaii’s residents from traveling abroad. It required Hawaii to participate in discrimination against members of the Muslim faith.”

Prepared by former Obama administration acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and others, Hawaii’s brief was one of a number filed electronically with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals starting late Sunday night and lasting through early Monday morning.

Ten former top national security and foreign policy experts, including several who’d worked for the CIA or the National Security Agency, joined a statement to the appeals court in which they said they were “unaware of any specific threat that would justify the travel ban established by the executive order.”

More than 90 companies, ranging from Apple and Google to the yogurt makers at Chobani, said in a brief that the order “inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation and growth” and “threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business and investment to the United States.”

Other brief-filers ranged from a Maryland-based refugee advocacy organization called HIAS, which said it wanted to “edify the court about the needless difficulties and dangers that President Trump’s executive order has caused,” to Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which together declared that the order was “motivated by religious animus.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has separately challenged the executive order on the East Coast, likewise contended in its amicus brief that the order is “motivated by bias against Muslims, as confirmed by the president’s own public statements, as well as the absence of any rational justification for the categorical exclusion of individuals from the seven identified nations.”

Hundreds of law professors weighed in, as well.

As early as Monday, a panel of the 9th Circuit will decide whether to overturn a Seattle-based trial judge and put Trump’s controversial order back into effect.

Michael Doyle: 202-383-6153, @MichaelDoyle10