9th Circuit deals Trump travel ban another defeat

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco largely left in place a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that blocked the president's March 6 travel ban order, which Trump said was urgently needed to prevent terrorism in the United States.

The judges largely affirmed US District Court Judge Derrick Watson's decision from March which found the core provisions of the revised executive order - temporarily blocking all refugees and foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US - likely violated the Constitution because its primary objective was to disfavor Muslims, but on slightly different grounds.

Because of the conflict with immigration law, the judges said they didn't need to consider whether it also violated the Constitution's prohibition on the government favouring or disfavouring any religion.

In May, the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in richmond, Virginia, upheld a Maryland judge's ruling that also blocked parts of Trump's revised travel ban.

The ruling on Monday from the three-judge - Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez - panel is yet another stinging loss from a court that similarly refused to reinstate Trump's original executive order on travel in February, reports CNN. The high court is also considering whether to hear the government's appeal of a similar injunction issued by a federal judge in Maryland and has yet to decide if it will take up the cases.

In March, the judge in Honolulu blocked the new version from taking effect, citing what he called "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" in Trump's campaign statements.

Lawyers for the Trump Administration countered that presidents have wide authority over matters of immigration and national security and should not be second-guessed by unelected federal judges.

The executive order sort to ban people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days.

The 9th Circuit narrowed Watson's ruling in some minor ways, allowing the administration to conduct an internal review of its vetting procedures for refugees and visa applicants.

The state of Hawaii and Dr. Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, argued that Trump's order stigmatized Muslims and would hurt tourism and the recruitment of university students and faculty. The court said the executive order signed by Trump "exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by congress" to oversee immigration. "The order does not tie these nationals in any way to terrorist organizations within the six designated countries".

Trump's suspension of the USA refugee program also remains blocked.

After that order was blocked by courts, the White House issued a second executive order, omitting references to religion and specifically exempting green card holders.

The Trump administration has opposed such an allegation.

Both courts were broadly skeptical of the government's argument that the president - who has wide latitude on issues of immigration - was well within his rights to issue the executive order.

  • Salvatore Jensen