The Trump administration suffered another embarrassing legal defeat on Thursday, after a panel of judges upheld a halt on the President’s revised travel ban.
The controversial executive order – widely regarded and derided as a ‘Muslim ban’ – was indefinitely halted by a district court in March.
Judge Derrick Watson, of Hawaii, had blocked the second rendition of the immigration ban on grounds it probably violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by singling out Muslims. Shortly afterward, the Justice Department filed an appeal.
The Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Justice Department’s arguments on Thursday, raising many of the same concerns as Watson.
In a 68-page opinion endorsed by six of his colleagues, Chief Judge Robert Gregory wrote, “From the highest elected office in the nation has come an Executive Order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group.
“We are … unmoved by the Government’s rote invocation of harm to ‘national security interests’ as the silver bullet that defeats all other asserted injuries,” he continued. “The Government’s asserted national security interest in enforcing [the six-country visa ban] appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.”
The 10-3 decision, which was split primarily along party lines, saw dissent typical of the travel ban’s proponents.
Between the original travel ban and its revision, the argument most frequently brought forward by the Trump administration and its supporters is that restrictions on immigration from certain nations are necessary to protect Americans from terror.
Judge Dennis Shedd echoed that sentiment in his dissent, writing, “As [sic] the end of the day, the real losers in this case are the millions of individual Americans whose security is threatened on a daily basis by those who seek to do us harm.”
Joined by Judges Paul Niemeyer and Steven Agee, Shedd continued to say, “The security of our nation is indisputably lessened as a result of the injunction. Moreover, the President and his national security advisers (and perhaps future Presidents) will be seriously hampered in their ability to exercise their ability to exercise their constitutional duty to protect this country.”
Shedd may say that the security of the nation has been “indisputably lessened” by his colleagues’ ruling, but he, along with Trump and the Justice Department, seem to be missing a crucial piece of a much larger picture – the reality that the travel ban reflected political and business interests more than the modern state of terror.
Just last week, President Trump joined the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in damning Iran’s human rights records in the wake of Hasan Rouhani’s reelection.
Although 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th, 2001, were citizens of the theocratic desert kingdom, thus far there has been no talk of sanctioning the United States’ primary supplier of oil.
While the President and his allies are eager to restrict the flow of refugees and skilled workers from impoverished places like Yemen and war-torn regions such as the Levant, he takes no stance against Egypt and its neighbors in the Maghreb, which have supplied tens of thousands of fighters to the Islamic State.
By continuing the hold on a second rendition of Trump’s ill-conceived travel ban, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has taken a stand for the Constitution against an odd and illogical policy which sought to bully America’s nemeses rather than reinforce the safety of the United States.