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How the 'Muslim ban' hearing went down in Seattle

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson prepares to talk to the media about a federal judge's ruling on the Trump refugee order Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.
KUOW photo/Amy Radil
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson prepares to talk to the media about a federal judge's ruling on the Trump refugee order.

What was the scene like?

KUOW’s Amy Radil: It's usually pretty sedate but there was a huge turnout to see this hearing. I heard some court employees talking saying they've never seen such a crowd. The courtrooms aren't that big so there was an overflow room a few floors up where people watched it on video.

Afterwards, Bob Ferguson called it historic, the kind of case you study in law school. He said his staff is very sleep deprived and they've been working around the clock to get ready, so they're probably going to get some rest.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson was happy obviously with today's answer. What were the grounds that he was arguing today?

Radil: They were trying to show is that the state is suffering and will continue to suffer irreparable harm, as a result of the Executive Order and the way it took effect immediately.

Ferguson said employers and state universities have had employees stranded overseas, because the way the order came down so suddenly, so they've lost money and they've had to show that kind of harm.

Also, they said for residents here, they lost due process rights overnight. They lost rights to travel with no notice, so they were trying to advocate on behalf of the residents as well as state institutions.

How were the lawyers for the U.S. Justice department defending these new restrictions on immigration?

Radil: They said that President Trump is clearly within his rights to make policy, especially on immigration and national security. They called those areas sort of the height of the president's powers, and they said that these seven countries have already been subject to restrictions under President Obama because they are countries of concern.

The judge kind of pressed them and said, 'How many people from these countries have engaged in attacks in the U.S. since 9/11?' And the attorney responded that she didn’t know. The judge ultimately said this needs to be based on fact and not fiction.

Did the judge explain why he granted his order?

Radil: He didn't get into the policy arena but he said clearly that it meets the criteria to grant a temporary restraining order. The state did demonstrate that it is suffering harm that could be irremediable and he said that it could easily go on to appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, so he said he'll issue a written decision soon, as he put it, to see if the Court of Appeals wants to 'grade his homework.' 

So what is the effect of this ruling, it's not just for Washington state?

Radil: They sought the temporary restraining order nationwide, so it has nationwide import but there are these other court cases that have been making their way through in other jurisdictions, so it's not clear this is going to cause a run to the airports.

What happens next?

Radil: Judge Robart said his specific ruling could go to the 9th Circuit. This may be a very small window of time before there's another ruling on top of this that could reverse it or change it, so we'll just have to wait and see.

This transcript was edited lightly for accuracy.

Year started with KUOW: 2005