A federal judge in Virginia shot down President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban on Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that Trump's executive order likely violates First Amendment protections against the freedom of religion, according to the Washington Post.
U.S. District Judge James Robart - who issued the temporary restraining order at the request of Washington state and Minnesota on February 4 - rejected the U.S. Justice Department's request to pause the underlying case in lower court while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether a larger, 11-judge panel will review the case. In California last week a federal appeals court upheld a nationwide restraining order stopping the government from implementing the ban on a temporary basis. She also cited news accounts that Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani said the executive order is an effort to find a legal way for Trump to be able to impose his Muslim ban. She said the president's own remarks drew her to that conclusion.
The order already has been blocked by USA courts on the west coast, but a US district court hearing a challenge to the order from the US state of Virginia also issued a preliminary injunction against parts of the order late on February 13. The 9th Circuit case covers refugees.
Under the preliminary injunction, according to the Attorney General's Office, the Trump administration is barred - until a trial on the merits - from "enforcing its ban against any Virginia green card holder or Virginia workers or students who were lawfully in the United States when the executive order went into effect".
Brinkema was referring to a statement on Trump's campaign website from December 7, 2015 "calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on".
She said the president's executive authority is still limited by the Constitution.
"Maximum power does not mean absolute power", she wrote.
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday night.