Federal judges again block Trump travel ban

Two federal judges—one in Maryland on March 16 and another in Hawaii the day before—issued temporary restraining orders (PDF, PDF) against President Donald Trump's new 90-day travel ban. Finding that the state had established a strong likelihood of success on the merits, Hawaii District Judge Derrick Watson issued an opinion permitting continued travel from six predominantly Muslim countries listed on Trump's order. Trump responded to the order, calling it "the bad, sad news," and "an unprecedented judicial overreach." The new order, which dropped Iraq from the banned countries list, would have barred entry for nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and completely banned entry of refugees for 120 days.

In his stinging order, Watson stated:

The illogic of the Government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries. It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%. It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam.

The Justice Department has vowed to fight for the ban, and Trump proposed the question go to the Supreme Court.

From Jurist, March 16. Used with permission.

Judge denies motion to 'clarify' travel ban ruling

Judge Derrick Watson of the US District Court for the District of Hawaii stood by his ruling against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban and denied a motion (PDF) on March 19 from the Trump administration to narrow his ruling. Watson's March 15 ruling ordered a stop on Trump's revised ban. In denying the motion, Watson explained that the scope of the court's ruling was clear. Watson's ruling, unlike the ruling from a Maryland judge, ordered a stop on the provision barring refugees. (Jurist)

Judge affirms Trump's authority to revisit travel ban

On March 24 a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia released an opinio (PDF) affirming Trump's authority to issue his second travel ban executive order. Despite arguments that the latest travel ban is a rehash of the initial "Muslim ban," the judge held the new ban underwent "substantive revisions," making it "no longer likely that Plaintiffs can succeed on their claim that the predominate purpose of [the new travel ban] is to discriminate against Muslims based on their religion and that [the new travel ban] is a pretext or sham for that purpose." In addition, the judge said Trump provided sufficient reasons to justify the order, particularly national security needs. The court also held that the president "has unqualified authority to bar physical entry to the United States at the border." The Muslim activists who initiated the suit vowed to appeal. (Jurist)

13 states back Trump's travel ban in court filing

A group of 13 states have come out in support of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban. Twelve state attorneys general and one governer filed a brief (PDF) with the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit March 27 stating that the president lawfully acted in the interest of national security. The states claim that the action is not a "pretext for religious discrimination" and does nnot violated the constitution. The states, which include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia, argue that:

The Executive Order's temporary pause in entry by nationals from six countries and in the refugee program neither mentions any religion nor depends on whether affected aliens are Muslim. Thus, the Executive Order is emphatically not a "Muslim Ban."

Opponents of the order argue that it specifically targets Muslim countries, harms state economies and is unconstitutional. The appeal is the result of a ruling (PDF) from a Maryland federal judge earlier this month that found the Trump travel ban violated the constitution. The Fourth Circuit is set to hear oral arguments in the case on May 8. (Jurist)