Monday, May 08, 2017

4th Circuit En Banc Hears Oral Arguments On Trump's Second Travel Ban

Today the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of appeals sitting en banc  (13 judges) heard oral arguments (audio of oral arguments from C-Span) in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump.  In the case, a Maryland federal district court granted a nationwide preliminary injunction barring enforcement of Section 2(c) of President Trump's second travel ban executive order. That section of the Executive Order imposes a 90-day suspension on entry into the country of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  The district court concluded that there is a likelihood that the travel ban violates the Establishment Clause. (See prior posting.) Washington Post reports on the oral arguments, saying in part:
... [J]udge after judge during an extraordinary two-hour hearing asked Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall about statements during the presidential campaign and afterward in which Trump talked about a Muslim ban.
Wall said the order for a 90-day ban on foreign travelers from certain countries was simply to protect the country by increasing the vetting of those who are potentially dangerous. That is not only within the president’s authority, Wall said, it is his responsibility.
But Judge Barbara Milano Keenan said that could mean a candidate for president could call for a Muslim ban every day for a year, enact a cleverly worded plan that accomplished that on his first day in office, and have courts ignore whether that was his real purpose.
Under intense questioning, Wall acknowledged it could violate the Constitution to single out a religion for adverse treatment, but said Trump’s revised executive order was neutral.