4th Circuit Court Ruling Keeps Trump's Travel Ban on Hold


In a 10-3 decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has upheld a district court injunction against President Trump's revised travel ban, which would have temporarily barred citizens of six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.

It was the first decision from a federal appeals court on the revised travel ban, echoing earlier skepticism by lower federal courts about the legality of President Trump's executive order, which sought to halt immigration for up to 90 days while the government imposed stricter vetting processes.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, concluded in its 205-page ruling that the revised order, issued on March 6th, "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination." The court went on to say, "...we find that Plaintiffs have more than reasonably alleged that EO-2's [Executive Order 2] stated national security interest was provided in bad faith, as a pretext for its religious purpose." The appeals court vote was 10 to 3 and divided along ideological lines, with the three Republican appointees in dissent. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Initially, the travel ban suspended entry for travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days, and banned refugees from Syria. The revised order was aimed at softening the original ban, which was almost immediately blocked by lower federal courts. The second order allowed case-by-case exceptions for incoming travelers and lifted the ban from Iraqi travelers.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project who argued the appeal on behalf of people and groups challenging the revised order, said in a statement that the court's decision vindicates fundamental rights.

"President Trump's Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms," he said. "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."

In writing for the majority, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory noted past statements from Trump and his advisers - such as Trump calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States". He also noted that the courts have a role to play in upholding the law.

"Although the Supreme Court has certainly encouraged deference in our review of immigration matters that implicate national security interests," he wrote, "it has not countenanced judicial abdication, especially where constitutional rights, values and principles are at stake."

A second appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California, heard arguments recently in an appeal of a separate injunction and is expected to rule shortly.

Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide relevant updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.


UPDATE (06/12/2017): The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a separate injunction against President Trump's revised travel ban.