Appeals Court Hears Arguments Over President Trump's Travel Ban
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 24, 2017,
May 24, 2017, 2:34
Judges for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave no indication which way they might rule after hearing arguments Monday regarding President Donald Trump's revised travel ban.
But unlike the due process concerns driving the analysis in the last round, this time the different panel of judges appeared to wrestle with Trump's past statements about Muslims as it decides whether the lower court in Hawaii correctly blocked the revised ban.
JEFFREY WALL: Over time, the president clarified that what he was talking about were Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that shelter or sponsor them.
Attorney Neal Katyal, who represented the plaintiffs, told the judges the president showed a "repeated pattern" of behavior that supports a discriminatory attitude toward Muslims, and a ruling in favor of the government would set a precedent for discrimination.
He noted that Trump's promise of a total shutdown on Muslims remained on his campaign website up until last week.
The judges are being asked to overturn an order blocking Trump's directive.
Trump's first attempt at the travel ban, which he signed on January 27, barred entry for nationals of seven majority Muslim countries, shut down the entire refugee program, blocked visitors who already had already been issued visas and gave immigration preference to religious minorities, which Trump said was created to help Christians.
If Trump's executive order was the same as the one involving Japanese Americans, Wall said: "I wouldn't be standing here, and the US would not be defending it". On Monday Wall said the order doesn't say anything about religion.
The three judges - all appointed by former President Bill Clinton - peppered Wall and Katyal with pointed questions.
The first decree - which prompted mass protests and sowed chaos at USA airports - was blocked on grounds it violated the constitutional ban on religious discrimination, a ruling upheld on appeal.
And in yet another judicial development concerning the ban, a federal judge in MI last week ordered the Trump administration to turn over communications from former NY mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and other Trump's advisers whose comments judges nationwide have pointed to as they have ordered to freeze the ban.
Instead of appealing to the US Supreme Court, the president issued a revised version of the ban to make it more defendable in courts.
Judge Richard Paez was skeptical of that argument Monday. A lot of them had to do with what the president has said on this issue and whether or not the judges should consider that in context.
The hearing in Seattle before a panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, scheduled for one hour starting at 9:30 a.m., will be broadcast live on C-SPAN and streamed from the court's website. The judge called the evidence of animus "significant and unrebutted".
The Justice Department stands firm on its position that the Trump travel ban aims exclusively to protect national security, not to discriminate against Muslims.
"This is a very unusual case in which you have these public statements by the President", he said. "If it were, I would not be standing here, and the United States would not be defending it". To reinstate the measurefully, the Justice Department would have to win in both the 4th and 9th circuits - or escalate the dispute to the Supreme Court. One judge even asked if there was anything other than "willful blindness" that would prevent them from doing so, a less than encouraging sign for Trump's lawyers as they headed to court Monday in Seattle. If the travel ban is to be upheld, Wall suggested, it should be because presidents are owed a "presumption of regularity". "We look forward to the court's ruling". Wall was formerly a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and has argued before the nation's top court 11 times.