The DoJ has defended President Donald Trump’s immigration ban and urged an appeals court to reinstate it in the interests of national security.
In a 15-page brief it argued it was a “lawful exercise of the president’s authority” and not a ban on Muslims.
President Trump’s executive order temporarily banned entry for all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries.
A hearing has been set for today on whether to allow or reject the ban.
The filing was made to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in response to the halting of Donald Trump’s order on February 3 by a federal judge in Washington state.
Image source Flickr
The judge had ruled the ban was unconstitutional and harmful to the state’s interests.
As a result, people from the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – with valid visas were able to travel to the US again.
The brief filed on February 6 said the Washington court had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order”.
“But even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” the DoJ added.
President Trump’s executive order issued on January 25 fulfilled his campaign promise to tighten restrictions on arrivals to the US.
It caused confusion at US and foreign airports when it came into force, and was widely condemned, although polls suggest that US public opinion is sharply divided on the policy.
The states of Washington and Minnesota have argued that as well as being unconstitutional, the travel ban is harmful to their residents, businesses and universities.
Attorneys general in 16 states have signed a letter condemning the ban, and lawsuits have been launched in 14 states.
Former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright and former CIA director Leon Panetta have joined others in drafting a letter which describes the travel ban as ineffective, dangerous and counterproductive.
Lawyers for tech giants including Apple and Google have also lodged arguments with the court, saying that the travel ban would harm their companies by making it more difficult to recruit employees.
The Department of Justice has filed an anti-trust case to block the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
The $11 billion deal, which would form the world’s largest airline, was backed by a federal judge in March and has been approved by the European Union.
The complaint says customers would see a price rise as the merger would “substantially lessen competition” in the domestic market.
US Airways boss Doug Parker said the company would fight the injunction.
“We are extremely disappointed in this action and believe the DOJ [Department of Justice] is wrong in its assessment,” Doug Parker said in a letter to employees.
The District of Columbia and six US states and have joined the legal action: Texas, where American Airlines is headquartered, Arizona, where US Airways is based, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.
American Airlines and US Airways said that in light of the justice department’s action they no longer expected the merger to close by the end of 2013, but that they remained “hopeful” litigation would be over by year’s end.
The Department of Justice has filed an anti-trust case to block the merger of American Airlines and US Airways
Shares in both companies fell, along with the stock prices of other airlines, as news of the anti-trust case hit the markets on Tuesday.
“By challenging this merger, the Department of Justice is saying that the American people deserve better,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
“This transaction would result in consumers paying the price – in higher air fares, higher fees and fewer choices.”
The lawsuit also cites direct competition between the airlines on nonstop routes worth about $2 billion in annual revenues.
In one example, the complaint says the newly merged company would take up 69% of flights out of Washington’s Reagan National Airport and 63% of nonstop routes out of the airport.
The airlines had previously conceded take-off and landing slots at airports in Philadelphia and London in order to win EU approval last week.
When the deal was announced in February, Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller also expressed concern that consumers would lose.
American Airlines has been in bankruptcy protection since November 2011, but US Airways has been profitable in recent years.
The two combined airlines would have 6,700 daily flights and annual revenue of roughly $40 billion.
The justice department complaint argues the two companies do not need to merge to continue to be competitive, and that American Airlines is likely to exit bankruptcy as a “vigorous competitor”.
The department also cited American Airlines’ purchase two years ago of 460 new planes, said to be the largest such order in industry history.
If the merger continues, there will be only three major US airlines, which the justice department alleges “increasingly prefer tacit coordination over full-throated competition”.
Some industry analysts suggest that American Airlines and US Airways’ ability to compete without a merger is not as strong as the department argues.