A look at latest legal loss for Trump travel ban

A similar ruling against Trump's policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place and the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals court is reviewing that decision.

President Donald Trump's revised travel ban "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination", a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the executive order targeting six Muslim-majority countries.

Both cases are likely headed to the U.S. Supreme court, according to legal experts.

"These clearly are very unsafe times and we need every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence", he said. The dissenters agreed with the administration that the court should have given broader latitude to the White House, should have shown them deference, especially on issues of national security.

The case pits the president's significant authority over immigration against what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said was a policy that purported to be about national security but was meant to target Muslims.

The decision may be poetic justice for a president who as a candidate stupidly proposed to ban all members of the Muslim faith from entering the United States.

Gregory's ruling essentially hangs on a familiar, and superficially plausible, argument: that the order is a sanitized version of Trump's notorious proposal in December 2015 for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on". Calling the executive order a "modest action" Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote that Supreme Court precedent required the court to consider the order "on its face". Courts have examined and cited then-candidate Trump's remarks.

FILE - In this September 27, 2016 file photo, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chief Justice Roger Gregory, gestures during an interview in his office in Richmond, Va.

The appeals court questioned a government argument that the president has wide authority to halt the entry of people to the US. “Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. "It can not go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation", the majority opinion said. "Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims", the appeals court judges said in their 205-page ruling. It's the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban. The full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case earlier this month and ruled for the plaintiffs in a 10-3 vote.

Three judges dissented on the grounds that the executive order did not mention religion. The first, issued on January 27, led to chaos and protests at airports before it was blocked by courts. The appeals court majority did not think the second version was an improvement: "Significantly, in revising the order, the executive branch did not attempt to walk away from its previous discriminatory order".

"Don't we get to consider what was actually said here and said very explicitly?" said Judge James Wynn Jr, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

During oral arguments this month, numerous 4th Circuit judges expressed doubts about the viability of the president's order.

The Maryland case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of organizations as well as people who live in the US and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries.

The Supreme Court is nearly certain to step into the case over the presidential executive order issued by Trump that seeks to temporarily cut off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. "Far from containing the sort of religious advocacy or disparagement that can violate the Establishment Clause, the Order contains no reference to religion whatsoever".

  • Joanne Flowers