'No question' Donald Trump respects the courts, says White House
The White House has insisted US President Donald Trump "respects the judicial branch" despite his tough talk over the pushback against his immigration ban.
Press secretary Sean Spicer asserted that there is "no question" over the president's respect of the courts.
Earlier, Mr Trump told members of the National Sheriff's Association that the court fight over his refugee and immigration executive order could end up in the Supreme Court.
Mr Trump said he was going to take his fight to uphold the directive "through the system".
He lashed out last weekend over a court order to block the ban, saying on Twitter: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned."
The US Justice Department earlier filed a new defence of the president's ban on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim nations as a federal appeal court considers whether to restore the administration's executive order.
The lawyers said the ban was a "lawful exercise" of the president's authority to protect national security and a judge's order that put the policy on hold should be overruled.
The filing with the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest salvo in a high-stakes legal fight surrounding Mr Trump's order, which was halted by a federal judge in Washington state on Friday .
A randomly-selected panel of appeal judges are set to hear the arguments.
The appeal court earlier refused to immediately reinstate the ban, and lawyers for two states challenging it - Washington and Minnesota - argued on Monday that any resumption would "unleash chaos again", separating families and stranding university students.
The Justice Department responded that the president had clear authority to "suspend the entry of any class of aliens" to the US in the name of national security.
It said the travel ban, which temporarily suspends the country's refugee programme and immigration from seven countries with terrorism concerns, was intended "to permit an orderly review and revision of screening procedures to ensure that adequate standards are in place to protect against terrorist attacks".
The challengers of the ban, the Justice Department wrote, were asking "courts to take the extraordinary step of second-guessing a formal national security judgment made by the president himself pursuant to broad grants of statutory authority".
Whatever the appeal court decides, either side could ask the Supreme Court to intervene.
It could prove difficult to find the necessary five votes at the high court to undo a lower court order; the Supreme Court has been at less than full strength since Justice Antonin Scalia's death a year ago.
The last immigration case that reached the justices ended in a 4-4 tie.
The president's executive order has faced legal uncertainty ever since Friday's ruling by US district judge James Robart, which challenged both Mr Trump's authority and his ability to fulfil a campaign promise.
The State Department quickly said people from the seven countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - with valid visas could travel to the US and t he Homeland Security Department said it was no longer directing airlines to prevent affected visa holders from boarding US-bound planes.
The legal battle involves two divergent views of the role of the executive branch and the court system.
The government has asserted that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, while Judge Robart has said a judge's job is to ensure an action taken by the government "comports with our country's laws".