Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hawaii Federal Court Bars Enforcement of Key Provisions of Second Travel Ban

Today a Hawaii federal district court issued a nationwide temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of Section 2  (90 day ban on entry into U.S. of nationals of six Muslim-majority nations) and Section 6 (120 day suspension of entry of refugees) of President Trump's second "travel ban" Executive Order.  The Executive Order was scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. (See prior posting.)  The lawsuit was brought by the state of Hawaii and by the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawai‘i.  In State of Hawaii v. Trump, (D HI, March 15, 2017), a Hawaii federal district court concluded that:
Because a reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral purpose, the Court finds that Plaintiffs, and Dr. Elshikh in particular, are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.
The court explained its conclusion in part as follows:
The record before this Court is unique. It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the Executive Order and its related predecessor.... The Government appropriately cautions that, in determining purpose, courts should not look into the “veiled psyche” and “secret motives” of government decisionmakers and may not undertake a “judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter’s heart of hearts.”... The Government need not fear. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry.
According to Hawaii News Now,  President Trump reacted to the ruling during a rally in Nashville, saying in part:
This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach. This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way, we no longer are, believe me.  We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to fight this case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Washington Post reports on today's decision. Josh Blackman's Blog has a lengthy post reviewing cases on the application of the Establishment Clause to immigration law matters and reaching a different conclusion than did the Hawaii court about the Executive Order's constitutionality..