Published: Sat, February 17, 2018
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US appeals court rules against Trump travel ban

US appeals court rules against Trump travel ban

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that it examined statements made by Trump and other administration officials, as well as the ban itself, and concluded it is "unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam". Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote 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 goal is driven by anti-Muslim bias, they offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President.

Trump's first travel ban was issued nearly a year ago, nearly immediately after he took office, and was aimed at seven countries. The Circuit Court said that it was relying only on what the President had said since entering the White House, thus leaving aside as a legal matter his campaign comments. "The President's lawful order remains critical to accomplishing that goal".

"This case involves a [federal] court's bold effort to second-guess USA foreign policy and, in particular, the president's discretionary decisions on immigration, implicating matters of national security", he wrote.

The ruling has no immediate effect.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Paul Niemeyer said the 4th Circuit's ruling was an attempt to "second-guess US foreign policy, in particular, the president's discretionary decisions on immigration, implicating matters of national security". The third order is broader than the earlier two, because it would make the restrictions permanent, not temporary, if the order withstands court review.

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"Our constitutional system creates a strong presumption of legitimacy for presidential action, and we often defer to the political branches on issues related to immigration and national security", Gregory wrote. The ban also blocks people from North Korea and a handful of Venezuelan government officials, though those aspects of the policy aren't at issue in the high court case.

Shannon Bream reports on what the ruling means for the Trump administration. But the lengthy discussion in the several opinions issued by the Fourth Circuit Court made it clear that the questions of presidential authority under immigration law are closely intertwined with issues under the Constitution - especially the question of religious discrimination under the First Amendment.

In October, federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued injunctions blocking enforcement of the ban, which the Trump administration appealed.

It in large part suspended travel to the USA by nationals of five majority-Muslim countries covered under the previous travel bans - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen - as well as two new countries, Chad and North Korea.

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