A federal appeals court upheld Thursday a lower court’s temporary block of key provisions of President Donald Trump’s revised executive order banning travel from some Middle East and African countries.
U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the text of Trump’s executive order, which was challenged in courts across the country for targeting members of a particular faith, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination“.
President Trump has repeatedly criticized the federal courts for their decision regarding his travel ban, and it is likely that this decision from the 4th Circuit will be no exception.
The appeal was heard by 13 of the appeals court’s 15 judges on May 8. Even after President Trump tried to scale it back and better hide his tracks, his Muslim ban still suffers from a fatal dose of religious animus. He said Thursday that the ban is unconstitutional.
First, they made a show of withdrawing and reconsidering the travel ban, asking several government agencies for input (only to be undermined when some of them said there was no reason for a ban at all).
A federal court in Hawaii has issued a broader injunction that halted both the travel ban and the suspension of the U.S. refugee admissions program. Anticipating that the legal fight over the travel ban would eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, he added that the justices “surely will shudder at the majority’s adoption of this new rule that has no limits or bounds”. But courts in previous rulings blocking its enforcement have cited past statements from Trump and his advisors signaling that it may be to single out Muslims.
The 10-3 decision upheld the March ruling of a federal court in Maryland that said the ban violated the Constitution because it discriminates against Muslims.
The case hinged largely on whether Trump’s comments on the campaign trail – such as calling for a total shutdown on Muslims entering the country – should be used to determine the motive of the travel ban. These statements supported the court’s conclusion that the second executive order-as well as the original order issued January 27-were constructed as an attempt to make good on campaign promises to implement “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, as outlined in Trump’s “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration”.
Indeed, U.S. Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer, a conservative, warned that the 4th Circuit’s focus on Trump’s past statements was creating a “new rule” unsupported by prior precedents ― all but telegraphing to the Supreme Court that they should correct the error. “For a past statement to be relevant to the government’s objective, there must be a substantial, specific connection between it and the challenged government action”.
“We have won at every stage so far, and we’ve won because this ban is such a stark violation of our fundamental principals of religious liberty”, he said.
The new version made it clear the 90-day ban covering those six countries doesn’t apply to those who already have valid visas.
On March 6, Trump issued a revised travel ban striking Iraq and excluding existing visa and green card holders. What’s more likely is that the Trump administration will ask the Supreme Court to overturn both the Ninth and Fourth Circuits to put the ban back in place.
[Copyright By Paul Smedley]