Trump’s third try at a travel ban will likely be deemed unconstitutional, according to a federal appeals court ruling Thursday.
They claim that the travel ban “continues to exhibit a primarily religious anti-Muslim objective.”
The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit confirmed a lower court injunction that prevented the Trump administration from imposing key elements of the travel ban. Their plans were blocked while the US Supreme Court handles the issue of the ban.
Trump’s third travel ban is in front of the Supreme Court after the 9th Circuit decided in December that it broke federal law. The 9th Circuit didn’t rule on what the 4th Circuit said – whether the ban counts as religious discrimination in violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause – but they asked for a summary on the constitutional question.
The 4th Circuit chose to favor the groups challenging the ban, with a 9-4 decision. Chief Judge Roger Gregory stated in the majority opinion that the government’s “proffered rationale for the Proclamation lies at odds with the statements of the President himself.”
Plaintiffs here do not just plausibly allege with particularity that the Proclamation’s purpose is driven by anti-Muslim bias, they offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President.
He cited Trump’s “disparaging comments and tweets regarding Muslims,” constantly referred to a Muslim ban. Trump focused on countries that were heavily occupied by Muslims, and Trump continues to say that his latest demand shares the same goals as the other bans.
Federal courts stopped the president’s first two attempts coldly. Trump signed the travel restrictions on Sept. 24, which suspended travel to the United States for those from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The ban also included Chad and North Korea. The restrictions affected certain officials in Venezuela as well, as long as their family members.
Federal judges offered injunctions in Hawaii and Maryland that blocked the ban back in October, which Trump’s administration appealed. The Supreme Court sent out an order on Dec. 4 that allowed the ban until the appeals in the 9th and 4th Circuit went through. The justices shared that they awaited the appeals courts decision, which would come “with appropriate dispatch.”
The 9th circuit released its opinion on Dec. 20. The 4th Circuit, however, did not make a decision until Thursday.
Gregory wrote that even if the proclamation was “facially legitimate,” the text didn’t hurt the constitution. The government had no “bona fide” reason for accepting it. The administration fought and said the proclamation was chained to national security concerns, but Gregory stated that Trump’s statements eroded that. He wrote,
Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the President of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. The Proclamation is thus not only a likely Establishment Clause violation but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on ‘religious animosity.
The court sided with US District Judge Theodore Chuang’s preliminary injunction, which prevented enforcement of the travel ban regarding the nations mentioned above who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”