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Travel Ban Decision of Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

Full decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision on Trump’s Muslim travel ban. But first an excerpt:

“The question for this Court, distilled to its essential form, is whether the Constitution, as the Supreme Court declared in Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 120 (1866), remains “a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace.” And if so, whether it protects Plaintiffs’ right to challenge an Executive Order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination. Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles—that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another. Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation. Therefore, for the reasons that follow, we affirm in substantial part the district court’s issuance of a nationwide preliminary injunction as to Section 2(c) of the challenged Executive Order.”


“Shortly after courts enjoined the First Executive Order, President Trump issued EO-2, which the President and members of his team characterized as being substantially similar to EO-1. EO-2 has the same name and basic structure as EO-1, but it does not include a preference for religious-minority refugees and excludes Iraq from its list of Designated Countries. EO-2, § 1(e). It also exempts certain categories of nationals from the Designated Countries and institutes a waiver process for qualifying individuals. EO-2, § 3(b), (c). Senior Policy Advisor Miller described the changes to EO-2 as “mostly minor technical differences,” and said that there would be “the same basic policy outcomes for the country.” J.A. 339. White House Press Secretary Spicer stated that “[t]he principles of the [second] executive order remain the same.” J.A. 379. And President Trump, in a speech at a rally, described EO-2 as “a watered down version of the first order.” Appellees’ Br. 7 (citing Reilly, supra). These statements suggest that like EO-1, EO-2’s purpose is to effectuate the promised Muslim ban, and that its changes from EO-1 reflect an effort to help it survive judicial scrutiny, rather than to avoid targeting Muslims for exclusion from the United States.

These statements, taken together, provide direct, specific evidence of what motivated both EO-1 and EO-2: President Trump’s desire to exclude Muslims from the United States. The statements also reveal President Trump’s intended means of effectuating the ban: by targeting majority-Muslim nations instead of Muslims explicitly. And after courts enjoined EO-1, the statements show how President Trump attempted to preserve its core mission: by issuing EO-2—a “watered down” version with “the same basic policy outcomes.” J.A. 339. These statements are the exact type of “readily discoverable fact[s]” that we use in determining a government action’s primary purpose. McCreary, 545 U.S. at 862. They are explicit statements of purpose and are attributable either to President Trump directly or to his advisors. We need not probe anyone’s heart of hearts to discover the purpose of EO-2, for President Trump and his aides have explained it on numerous occasions and in no uncertain terms.”

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