A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked President Trump’s revised travel ban, finding that the order was “rooted in religious animus” against Muslims.
In a 10-3 ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in Richmond, Va., rejected the Trump administration’s claims that the measure was needed to protect national security. The court upheld a nationwide injunction imposed by a district court judge.
The matter is likely to go before the Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal recently heard arguments in a similar case challenging the ban.
“When the government chooses sides on religious issues, the ‘inevitable result’ is ‘hatred, disrespect and even contempt’ towards those who fall on the wrong side of the line,” wrote Chief Judge Roger Gregory, for the majority. “The risk of these harms is particularly acute here, where from the highest elected office in the nation has come an Executive Order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group.”
The travel ban sought to impose a 90-day halt in migration from six majority-Muslim countries. The administration has cited the President’s broad discretion over immigration policy, and argued that the country-based ban is not intended to single out a particular religion.
However, Gregory cited numerous comments from Trump and his advisers to substantiate the conclusion that the travel ban is indeed targeted at Muslims. These included Trump’s call during the presidential campaign for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute,” Gregory wrote. “It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”