-- Trump administration attorneys head back to a federal appeals court Monday seeking to reverse a judge’s March order that blocked the president’s second travel ban just hours before it was to go into effect -- a ruling the president called an “unprecedented judicial overreach” that made America “look weak.”
The revised travel ban that Trump signed on March 6 would block the entry of foreign nationals from six majority Muslim countries for 90 days, with exceptions for permanent U.S. residents and current visa holders. It would also suspend for 120 days the admission of refugees into the U.S.
“The President and his advisers did little to disguise the Order’s true nature,” attorneys for the state argue in court filings. “[T]he president seeks to enact a thinly veiled Muslim ban, shorn of procedural protections and premised on the belief that those who practice Islam are a danger to our country. The Constitution is not so easily cast aside.”
The order’s “explicit, religion-neutral objective is to address the risk that potential terrorists might exploit possible weaknesses in the Nation’s screening and vetting procedures while the review of those procedures is underway,” administration attorneys argue in filings before the court.
But as was the case last week when the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard the administration’s appeal of a Maryland judge’s decision blocking portions of the travel ban – the arguments in Seattle are expected to put a spotlight squarely on statements by Trump that opponents of the ban contend are evidence that the executive order was motivated primarily by President Trump’s alleged animus toward Muslims.
“The critical issue in this case is how much stock courts should put in the president's words,” said Kate Shaw, an associate professor at Cardozo School of Law in New York, and an ABC News contributor.
“This was a major question in the litigation around the first travel ban executive order. So now the court is evaluating the second executive order -- one that has a more developed national-security rationale, and some supporting materials from other executive-branch entities -- but whose operative provisions are quite similar, and against the backdrop of the same statements by the President and his surrogates,” Shaw said.
“There's also a deeper question here,” Shaw said, “about the impact of not only Trump's words about his intent to enact a ‘Muslim ban,’ but also about whether his attacks on courts and general disregard for norms and institutions are causing courts to accord him less deference than they would any other president.”
“The bottom line is that the administration needs to win in both the Ninth Circuit and the Fourth Circuit if it wants to implement the Executive Order, as the injunctions are independent of one another,” Cooper said. “Judging by the tone of the questioning earlier this week in the Fourth Circuit and the composition of the Ninth Circuit panel, that may be an uphill climb.”