Appeals court deals blow to Trump administration travel ban

May 27, 2017, 08:58

A federal appeals court upheld Thursday a lower court's temporary block of key provisions of President Donald Trump's revised executive order banning travel from some Middle East and African countries.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump's administration is pledging a Supreme Court showdown over his travel ban after a federal appeals ruled that the ban "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination".

The court also found the challengers were likely to suffer "irreparable harm" if the ban were implemented and that it might violate the U.S. Constitution.

Virginia-based federal appeals court pulled no punches in refusing to reinstate President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, with judges in the 10-3 majority calling the administration's action discriminatory and its reasoning nonsensical.

Shortly after the ruling was released, Sessions said he is seeking a review of the case in the Supreme Court. The court has not indicated when it will rule, but the travel ban would not go into effect as long as one nationwide injunction remains in effect.

A central question in the case before the 4th Circuit was whether courts should consider Trump's public statements about wanting to bar Muslims from entering the country as evidence that the policy was primarily motivated by the religion.

Protesters wave signs and chant during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel banoutside a federal courthouse in Seattle.

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.

Judge Dennis Shedd, meanwhile, said the executive order doesn't fulfill Trump's stated campaign pledge.

Niemeyer wrote that the order was issued in direct response to the risk of terrorism from six majority-Muslim countries. That would be more than a year after Trump rolled out the first travel ban.

The chief judge of the circuit, Roger L. Gregory, wrote in the ruling that the administration's national security interest appear to be a secondary justification "for an executive action rooted in religious animus and meant to bar Muslims from this country". They questioned whether there was a link between barring of citizens from the six countries identified by the administration and ensuring USA security.

In all, ten of the thirteen judges who heard the case voted against the Trump administration. He says looking at the order on its face, "it is entirely without constitutional fault".

The first travel ban in January triggered chaos and protests across the country as travelers were stopped from boarding global flights and detained at airports for hours. It got rid of language that would give priority to religious minorities and removed Iraq from the list of banned countries. He said Thursday that the ban is unconstitutional. "We are confident the President's executive order to protect the country is fully lawful and ultimately will be upheld by the Judiciary". The judges made their decision this week mostly along party lines.

A 2015 Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Kennedy has become a pivotal precedent in the legal fight. "The Constitution's prohibition on actions disfavoring or condemning any religion is a fundamental protection for all of us, and we can all be glad that the court today rejected the government's request to set that principle aside".

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