Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Trump travel ban blocked; fight headed for Supreme Court

Trump travel ban blocked; fight headed for Supreme Court Trump travel ban blocked; fight headed for Supreme Court
Ellis Copeland | 26 May, 2017, 10:00

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Thursday upheld an injunction [opinion, PDF] against President Donald Trump's travel ban that targets six Muslim-majority countries.

The Richmond, Va. -based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban unveiled in March. It would have banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the USA for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.

Just hours after the ruling, the Department of Justice announced it would seek a review of the case in the Supreme Court. The court was unconvinced that the travel ban was concerned with national security and is more likely an attempt at creating a "Muslim ban".

"The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk", Sessions said.

In Thursday's decision, the appellate court explicitly referred to Trump's advocacy of a Muslim ban during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Spokesman Michael Short says the administration needs "every available tool at our disposal" to keep terrorists from entering the United States and committing violence.

A U.S. federal appellate court upheld an injunction issued by a lower court blocking enforcement of President Donald Trump's executive order barring issuance of visas to residents of six Muslim-majority countries.

In an opinion that concurred with the majority on Thursday, Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote that the administration did nothing to distance itself from the first order, describing the revised ban as "the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing".

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Niemeyer was joined by judges Dennis W. Shedd and G. Steven Agee. The first, issued on January 27 just a week after the Republican president took office, led to chaos and protests at airports before it was blocked by courts. It said the executive order had a legitimate national security objective, allowing the government to assess the reliability of background information on visa applicants from six countries associated with terrorism. He says the ban was justified to ensure existing screening procedures were adequate.

"The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court, which blocks the President's efforts to strengthen this country's national security", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

But Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote that the government's "asserted national security interest ... appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and meant to bar Muslims from this country".

The New York Times cites the same ruling that issues the executive order, "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination". That order now remains in place, setting up a potential showdown over the travel ban in the Supreme Court.

Critics said the changes don't erase the legal problems with the ban.

The judges found that the Trump administration's alleged intent to discriminate against Muslims could violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another. This, Gregory said, proved that " any national security justification for [the executive order] was "secondary to its primary religious objective".

The appeals court upheld in a 10-3 decision a Maryland court's ruling in March that kept the executive order from going into effect. He also filed an amicus brief in support of Washington and Minnesota in their successful challenge to the first ban, as well as Hawaii's successful challenge against the revised travel ban.

CNN legal analyst and and professor at the University of Texas School of Law Steve Vladeck called the ruling "an enormous victory for the challengers to the travel ban, and a huge loss" for Trump. The Court's summer recess begins next month, meaning the administration would likely have to wait until the next term begins in October before the justices could hear oral arguments in the matter.

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