Appeals court deals blow to Trump administration travel ban

Federal court strikes down Muslim travel ban and people on Twitter are rejoicing

Federal court strikes down Muslim travel ban and people on Twitter are rejoicing

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Thursday upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction on President Donald Trump's travel ban, continuing to block it from taking effect. The Ninth Circuit has heard oral arguments in that case but hasn't issued its opinion yet. "There is now overwhelming judicial consensus that the president's Muslim ban is not only cruel and unnecessary, but unconstitutional as well".

"We find that the reasonable observer would likely conclude that EO-2's primary goal is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs", Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote on behalf of the majority. "Improper government involvement with religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion [,] encourage persecution of religious minorities and nonbelievers, and foster hostility and division in our pluralistic society".

They decided the arguments against the executive order were strong indeed.

Technically, the Fourth Circuit didn't fully uphold the lower court's order.

The judges "remain unconvinced" that the travel ban had "more to do with national security than it does with effectuating the President's promised Muslim ban". But the appeals court rejected that view, saying they provide a window into the motivations for Trump's action in government.

But the judges even questioned whether the government established enough of a national security threat to warrant a blanket ban against people from the six targeted countries. The Justice Department urged the judges to turn a blind eye to the president's previous statements saying Muslim immigrants should be banned from entering the United States, and to look only at the purportedly religiously-neutral language of the executive order. Trump's administration had hoped it would avoid the legal problems that the first version from January encountered. "Then-candidate Trump's campaign statements reveal that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States".

Gregory cited statements by Trump during the 2016 presidential election calling for a Muslim ban. McCreary, 545 U.S.at 862.

"We need not probe anyone's heart of hearts to discover the goal of EO-2, for President Trump and his aides have explained it on numerous occasions and in no uncertain terms", he added. We need not probe anyone's heart of hearts to discover the objective of EO-2, for President Trump and his aides have explained it on numerous occasions and in no uncertain terms. So the odds are high the administration is going to lose there, too.

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It also said that it should not apply to those who already had valid visas.

What are the administration's options if SCOTUS drags its feet or turns down its appeal?

Thirteen of the court's 15 active judges took part. If the administration does ask the court to step in, the justices' first vote could signal the court's ultimate decision.

Again, though, that's not terribly likely to happen.

Along the same lines as the injunction issued by the 9th Circuit court in California, the 4th Circuit judgment quotes Trump's statements from the campaign trail to argue that the "ban on all Muslims entering the US" shows the president's executive order was motivated by bigotry rather than national security.

Trump could try to persuade the Supreme Court to allow the policy to take effect, even while the justices weigh whether to hear the case, by arguing that the court orders blocking the ban make the country less safe.

"These clearly are very unsafe times and we need every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence", said Michael Short, a White House spokesman.