Appeals court declares Pres. Trump's latest travel ban unconstitutional

Appeals court declares Pres. Trump's latest travel ban unconstitutional

Appeals court declares Pres. Trump's latest travel ban unconstitutional

President Donald Trump speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, during a meeting with state and local officials about infrastructure.

In a 9-4 ruling, the federal appeals court held that the third version of Trump's travel ban ― which limited visitors from six majority-Muslim countries as well as two other nations ― was likely unconstitutional.

In a 9-4 decision, a majority of the judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said it examined official statements from Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, and found it "unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam".

The third version of Trump's travel ban targets people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Both rulings have no current effect, as the U.S. Supreme Court has said that the ban can go into place while it is challenged in the nation's highest court.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, on a 9-4 vote, became the second federal appeals court to rule against the ban, finding that the Republican president's own words demonstrated that bias against Muslims was the basis of the policy. Under a December 4 order from the Supreme Court, however, the ban on immigrants and temporary visitors is in effect as the challenges are litigated.

In its ruling, the fourth circuit used soaring language to criticize the ban, saying it had a "much broader deleterious effect" than banning certain foreign nationals. The ban, the court said, "denies the possibility of a complete, intact family to tens of thousands of Americans".

US Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the 4th Circuit ruling "does not alter the status quo, and we look forward to ultimate resolution of these issues by the Supreme Court".

The travel ban challengers "offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President", Gregory wrote, noting Trump's "disparaging comments and tweets regarding Muslims". "It's no surprise. The Constitution prohibits government actions hostile to a religion". Instead, it argues that the "statements that occurred after the issuance of [executive order 2] do not reflect any religious animus" but reflect "the compelling secular goal of protecting national security from an amply-documented present threat".

The 4th Circuit ruled in three consolidated lawsuits from Maryland. The travel restrictions vary based on the country.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Paul Niemeyer said the 4th Circuit's ruling was an attempt to "second-guess USA foreign policy, in particular, the president's discretionary decisions on immigration, implicating matters of national security".

Thirteen judges heard argument in the Richmond case pressed by two refugee resettlement groups and other people and allied organizations on December 8.

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