President Donald Trump’s administration suffered another legal blow yesterday after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s nationwide injunction against his revised travel ban. The 10-3 vote halts Trump’s plans to deny visas from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Chief Judge Roger Gregory delivered the stinging rebuke to Trump in the court’s majority opinion, writing that the order was unconstitutional because of its bias against Muslims:
From the highest elected office in the nation has come an Executive Order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group.
We are … unmoved by the Government’s rote invocation of harm to ‘national security interests’ as the silver bullet that defeats all other asserted injuries. The Government’s asserted national security interest in enforcing [the ban] appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.
The president does have the “broad power to deny entry to aliens,” Gregory acknowledged, but that power “cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”
Alhough the Trump administration has argued that anti-Muslim animus did not motivate either of the president’s travel bans, Gregory declared that “the government’s national security purpose was proffered in bad faith.” He cited Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposal for a Muslim ban during his presidential campaign, and “his subsequent explanation that he would effectuate this ban by targeting ‘territories’ instead of Muslims directly” for the decision.
The dissenting opinion argued that the court’s majority disregarded public safety by interfering with the judgment of the Executive Branch and its response to terror threats. Judge Dennis Shedd, joined by Judges Paul Niemeyer and Steven Agee, wrote:
As [sic] the end of the day, the real losers in this case are the millions of individual Americans whose security is threatened on a daily basis by those who seek to do us harm.
The security of our nation is indisputably lessened as a result of the injunction. Moreover, the President and his national security advisors (and perhaps future Presidents) will be seriously hampered in their ability to exercise their ability to exercise their constitutional duty to protect this country.
Neimeyer, in particular, expressed his anger with his colleagues for their willingness to examine Trump’s past statements “to recast the plain, unambiguous, and religiously neutral text of an executive order.”
To read more, please continue to page 2.