U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

4th Circuit Rules Against Trump's 2nd Travel Ban

A federal appeals court rebuked President Trump's latest travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries, saying the executive order "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination."

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the First Amendment forbids government from establishing "any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another." In ruling on International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, the appeals court affirmed a federal judge's issuance of a nationwide preliminary injunction against the controversial executive order.

"Congress granted the President with broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute," Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote for the divided court. "It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across the nation."

Campaign Statements

During arguments, the president's lawyers urged the court to look only at the text of the executive order and not at Trump's campaign statements. The executive order does not ban Muslims, only nationals from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

However, the Fourth Circuit majority said Trump made it clear in his campaign for the White House that he would target Muslims. The court cited his "Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration," which proposed a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representative can figure out what is going on."

Trump retracted the statement from his campaign website, but only after he had won the election and issued his first and second travel bans. He wrote his first executive order a week after he took office, but an appeals court affirmed an injunction against it two weeks later.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal is considering whether to uphold another injunction against the second order, which the Fourth Circuit enjoined in its 10-3 ruling.

Different Opinions

In both circuits, judges have divided on the issue. Fourth Circuit Justices Paul Niemeyer, Dennis Shedd, and Steven Agee dissented from the majority, saying the president's campaign statements should not have been considered in weighing his subsequent executive orders.

In the Ninth Circuit, judges splintered over whether to hear the issue en banc. During that debate stemming from the first travel ban, Judge Alex Kozinski aligned with the dissenters.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the president's attorneys will seek Supreme Court review.

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