A federal district court judge in Hawaii has issued a temporary restraining order against President Donald Trumps new travel ban, hours before it was due to take effect. The move was slammed by the President as "unprecedented judicial overreach".
In a 43-page ruling on Wednesday, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson concluded that the new executive order failed to pass legal muster at this stage and the state had established "a strong likelihood of success" on their claims of religious discrimination, CNN reported on Thursday.
Watson wrote that any "reasonable, objective observer" would view even the new order as "issued with a purpose to disfavour a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose."
He lambasted the government, in particular, for asserting that because the ban did not apply to all Muslims in the world, it could not be construed as discriminating against Muslims, reported the Washington Post.
Trump decried the ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as "the bad, the sad news."
"The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one," Trump said, as the crowd booed the news.
"This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach," he added, before pledging to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.
"We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to take this as far as we need to, right up to the Supreme Court. We're going to win and we're going to keep our citizens safe," the President said at the rally.
Trump's new entry ban had suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days and halted for 90 days the issuance of new visas to people from six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Syria.
Unlike the previous executive order, the new one removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted those with green cards and visas and removed a provision that arguably prioritises certain religious minorities.
The new ban was announced earlier this month and was set to take effect Thursday.
"The illogic of the government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus towards any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed," Watson wrote in his ruling.
"Equally flawed is the notion that the executive order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries," Watson added.
"It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%."
The Justice Department said it will defend the new travel ban.
Watson was one of three federal judges to hear arguments Wednesday about the ban, though he was the first to issue an opinion. Federal judges in Washington state and Maryland said they would issue opinions soon.