Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have blocked President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0. In their ruling both judges cited Trump’s statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign.
A federal judge in Hawaii Wednesday ordered a temporary restraining order nationwide, hours before it was set to go into effect on Thursday.
Another federal judge in Maryland Thursday morning specifically blocked the 90-day ban on immigration for citizens of six Muslim countries.
A federal judge in Washington State is also in the process of evaluating challenges to the new travel ban, but may defer ruling in light of the nationwide ruling in Hawaii, CNN said.
Trump decried Hawaii Judge ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as “the bad, the sad news,” the CNN reported. “The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one,” Trump said, as the crowd booed the news.”This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach,” he added, before pledging to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The Justice Department said it will defend the new travel ban, the CNN reported.
“The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the federal district court’s ruling, which is flawed both in reasoning and in scope. The President’s Executive Order falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our Nation’s security, and the Department will continue to defend this Executive Order in the courts,” DOJ said in a statement Wednesday night.
In a 43-page ruling, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii concluded that the new executive order failed to pass legal muster at this stage and the state had established “a strong likelihood of success” on their claims of religious discrimination.
“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed,” Watson wrote.
“Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries,” Watson added. “It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.”
“It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam,” Watson added. “Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not.”
“When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms … and the questionable evidence supporting the Government’s national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs’ (request to block the new order),” Watson wrote.
The case in Maryland was brought by three organizations and six people, claiming the order affected their work or prevented their family members from the affected countries from getting visas to enter the United States.
Chuang blocked only the provision of the new order affecting the issuance of visas to those from the six affected countries. He said those suing had “not provided a sufficient basis” for him to declare the other sections invalid. In Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson went further, also suspending the portion of the order that affected refugees.
Chuang wrote that he “should not, and will not, second-guess the conclusion that national security interests would be served by the travel ban,” but if the national security rationale was secondary to an attempt to disfavor a particular religion, he had no choice but to block the executive order.
“In this highly unique case,” he wrote, “the record provides strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban.”
Judges points to cable news comments
Both Watson and Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland brought up specific statements made by the President and Stephen Miller, one of his top policy advisers and a reported architect of the original order, in cable news interviews, the CNN reported.
Trump made plain his opposition to Islam in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper last year, asserting: “I think Islam hates us.”
Cooper asked then-candidate Trump in the interview to clarify if he meant Islam as a whole or just “radical Islam,” to which Trump replied, “It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”
The judge cited this interview as an example of the “religious animus” behind the executive order and quoted Trump telling Cooper: “We can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.”
Likewise, the decision cited an interview Miller had on Fox News following the legal struggles of the first executive order last month, which the legal opponents of the ban have emphasized repeatedly.
In a February interview, Miller downplayed any major differences the new executive order would have from the first and said it would be “responsive to the judicial ruling” holding it up and have “mostly minor technical differences.”
“Fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country,” Miller added.
“These plainly-worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose,” Watson wrote.
“Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude, as does the court for purposes of the instant Motion for TRO, that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims,” he added.
Maryland Judge agreed
“These statements, which include explicit, direct statements of President Trump’s animus toward Muslims and intention to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States, present a convincing case that the first executive order was issued to accomplish, as nearly as possible, President Trump’s promised Muslim ban,” Chuang wrote on Thursday.
“In particular, the direct statements by President Trump and (former New York City Mayor Rudy) Giuliani’s account of his conversations with President Trump reveal that the plan had been to bar the entry of nationals of predominantly Muslim countries deemed to constitute dangerous territory in order to approximate a Muslim ban without calling it one precisely the form of the travel ban in the first executive order.”
Lee Gelernt, an ACLU lawyer representing those challenging the ban in Maryland, said the ruling in his case was significant in that “two judges have looked at the revised order, and both have come to the same conclusion that it continues to be a Muslim ban.” He said he was also encouraged that yet another judge was willing to look beyond the order itself to the president’s comments and other potential evidence of discriminatory intent.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com