Trump Travel Ban: US Judge Blocks New Executive Order

Posted April 01, 2017

When federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Trump's revised travel ban from taking effect, the judges spelled out their major concern: the unusual record of statements by the president and his advisers suggesting the executive order's real goal was to discriminate against Muslims, in violation of the Constitution's ban on officially favoring or disfavoring any religion.

On Friday a federal judge in Seattle said he wouldn't rule on requests from the state of Washington and an immigrant rights group to halt Trump's revised travel ban because the two other judges have already halted it.

The revamped executive order had been due to take effect at midnight (0400 GMT), but a federal judge in Hawaii froze Trump s efforts to close U.S. borders to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

The initial ban sparked chaos at USA airports and widespread criticism around the world when it was signed in January.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a media briefing the government would "vigorously defend this executive order" and appeal against the "flawed rulings".

But statements from Trump and his team, especially when combined with his continued inclusion of a 90-day ban on foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries, have proved - at least for now - insurmountable in court.

In a 43-page decision, Chuang detailed many of Trump's statements about Muslims from the campaign trail and concluded that despite the significant changes to who was exempted by the executive order the second time around, "the history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the objective of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban". "The need for my executive order is clear".

The Maryland plaintiffs also argued the ban illegally reduces the number of refugees authorized to enter the USA this year.

In Hawaii, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, defending the government s position, said: "This order doesn t draw any religious distinction at all".

In a 43-page ruling, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii concluded that the new executive order failed to pass legal muster at this stage and the state had established "a strong likelihood of success" on their claims of religious discrimination.

He said Hawaii would suffer financially if the executive order constricted the flow of students and tourists to the state.

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Lawyers for the state of Hawaii, which brought the suit against the Trump administration have yet to respond to the state's filing.

But District Judge Derrick Watson rejected the idea that the order was not a Muslim ban, ruling it was plausible "to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam", given their Muslim populations all topped 90 percent.

Trump made plain his opposition to Islam in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper past year, asserting: "I think Islam hates us". "And once again, a federal judge has carried out his constitutional duty of checks and balances on risky overreach from an executive order that targeted individuals based on religion", he said.

Watson indicated that the court would not stay its decision in the event of an appeal.

Trump has vowed to take the fight all the way to US Supreme Court.

"They will take it because of its national importance", Spakovsky said.

"We're going to win".

The rulings in Hawaii late Wednesday and in Maryland early Thursday were victories for civil liberties groups and advocates for immigrants and refugees, who argued that a temporary ban on travel from six predominantly Muslim countries violated the First Amendment.

Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr warned Trump against a protracted battle.

Judge James Robart said the parties could ask him to reconsider should circumstances change.