(CBS) — A federal appellate panel in San Francisco has refused to reinstate President Trump’s controversial travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision does not rule on the merits of Trump’s order, which critics say is an unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the U.S. It caused chaos at U.S. airports as authorities sought to implement it.

The intended 90-day ban affected people from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Trump’s administration said the measure was necessary to review the U.S. government’s screening process.

But Thursday’s decision affirmed a lower court’s temporary restraining order that froze the travel ban hours after it had started. Washington state and Minnesota challenged the ban.

Officials with the U.S. Justice Department, which argued on behalf of Trump’s order, say they are reviewing the appellate decision. But President Trump seemed to indicate a continuing legal fight.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat praised the decision.

“The Court explicitly reminded our new President that his powers are subject to the limits imposed by our Constitution. This decision is critical on the merits but equally important in the sweep of history in asserting the independence of our judiciary,” Durbin said in a prepared statement.

Locally, Chicago lawyer Thomas Durkin also welcomed the ruling, which he finds strongly worded and unambiguous.

Durkin worked last week to clear the way for the return of a Syrian-born doctor who was barred briefly from returning to his job as a resident physician at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn.

“It has completely destroyed the absurd argument that anything that’s a matter of national security is un-reviewable,” he says. “I think the government tried to bite off more than it could chew here and the court struck back.”

Chicago-area attorneys opposed to the ban have been volunteering their time at O’Hare International Airport to help vetted immigrants who found obstacles waiting for them in Chicago. Corporate attorney Lizzy Magarian says the volunteers were “elated” Thursday when news broke about the appellate ruling.

“High fives, hugs, smiles all around — this is really what we were hoping for,” she tells CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov.

Read the entire 29-page decision here.


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