ADEA Washington Update

Federal Court Blocks President Trump's Travel Ban

(Federal Court) Permanent link   All Posts

TravelBanGavelThe executive order that initiated the travel ban announced January has been blocked by the Federal Courts, most recently by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (4th Circuit). The 10-3 ruling from the 4th Circuit upholds a lower court’s decision to halt core portions of the executive order indefinitely. As in the prior cases challenging President Trump’s first travel ban, the president’s own statements became the focus of the oral arguments.

As a candidate prior to November’s election, President Trump issued a statement calling for the “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States until the government could “figure out what is going on,” in response to a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, by ISIS sympathizers in December 2015. This and other related statements preceding the executive order added to the 4th Circuit’s belief that the revised travel ban was not about national security and presidential prerogatives but about an infringement on religious freedom.

Judge Paul Niemeyer, one of the three dissenters, said the majority “looks past the face” of the executive order and “adopts a new rule of law that uses campaign statements to recast the plain, unambiguous, and religiously neutral text.” Judge Niemeyer, a George W. Bush appointee, continued that “opening the door to the use of campaign statements to inform the text of later executive orders has no rational limits.” The Trump administration says it plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals is also evaluating the travel ban in a separate appeal, State of Hawaii v. Trump. The court has not indicated when it will rule, but the travel ban would not go into effect if one nationwide injunction remains in effect. In a third related case in Washington, D.C., Pars Equality Center v. Trump, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan said she was “inclined to agree with plaintiffs that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims,” but she postponed ruling on an injunction, saying that the case was not timely because the executive order was not being enforced due to prior injunctions. She did say that, if “both injunctions [in the Ninth and Fourth Circuits] are overturned, this court is prepared to issue a ruling without delay.”

If the blocked travel ban reaches the Supreme Court, Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch will have a hand in the decision. In the past, Justice Gorsuch has been known to support the use of executive power in national security situations. Whether he will see the executive order on its face as dealing with national security is still unknown.

Duggan ad 2013