In a 10-3 ruling the Fourth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling to block a key feature of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban.
The judges questions and comments when it heard the case made it clear this day was coming.
The government tried to persuade the court that it shouldn’t consider Trump’s campaign statements at all.
Judge Robert King countered that argument in one sentence. “The President has never repudiated the statements he made on a Muslim ban.”
In it’s ruling
The government tried to say clean up the mess that Trump made with his own words by arguing this is a travel ban based on national security interests- not a Muslim ban, no matter how often Trump promised to ban Muslims and no matter how often his surrogates referred to it as a Muslim ban.
The court was blistering in its response to this argument, as reflected in an excerpt tweeted by Trita Parsi
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) May 25, 2017
“As stated national security interest was provided in bad faith as a pretext for its religious purpose. And having concluded that the “facially legitimate” reason proferred by the government is not “bona fide”, we no longer defer to that reason and instead may “look behind” EO-2.”
The court is saying the government’s claim that this ban was about national security was an attempt to offer a legally acceptable argument for an unconstitutional Muslim ban. In other words, the government lied.
This isn’t rocket science. Our constitutional doesn’t allow discrimination based on a person’s religion. The courts know that attempts to ban people are unconstitutional. They know what Trump promised and they know that he didn’t back down from that promise. They also know that the national security argument isn’t true. Words and intent matter in law. From a legal standpoint, this case is very straightforward.
Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles — that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another,
While the president does have broad power on matters of national security, he doesn’t have a blank check.
“While the president has broad power over immigration, “that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked,”
It’s clear that anyone who was paying attention knew the president intended to ban Muslims in the first executive order and that intent remained in this order. The president admitted it
Trump’s words and the intent behind them weren’t limited to a one time incident during the campaign. His intent to ban Muslims was on his website. His surrogates referred to it as a Muslim ban, before the courts started weighing in. Rudolph Guilliani admitted the President wanted a commission to advise on how to ban Muslims “legally”.
It was only after the courts weighed in that the Administration started referring to it as a “travel ban.” It was after seeing defeat after defeat in the courts, all references to a Muslim ban were scrubbed on Trump’s campaign website.
Rudolph Gulliani reversed his earlier admission that the president asked him to come up with a way to ban Muslims “legally” after the fact.
I have not served on any Trump administration commission relating to the so-called Muslim ban executive orders,” Giuliani, 72, said Monday in an affidavit in Manhattan federal court, in a case unrelated to the travel ban. “For clarity, I have not participated in writing any of the executive orders on that subject issued by the Trump administration.
Trump’s disingenuous arguments backfired at the Fourth Circuit and it’s likely the same will occur when the 9th Circuit renders its ruling.
For all the good news about a ruling that upholds the constitution, this isn’t over yet. The President can take the case to the Supreme Court, where the President’s fortunes could change.