With the clock counting down the hours until President Donald J. Trump’s second attempt at a Muslim ban was to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. today, two federal judges issued separate rulings that put the ban on hold nationwide.
First, in Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a nationwide temporary restraining order against provisions in Trump’s executive order that would have blocked immigration from six Muslim-majority countries for three months and would have barred all refugees for four months.
Americans United, joined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, State of Hawaiʻi v. Trump. We argued the ban is unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims based on their religious beliefs.
“(T)he government has singled out one religious group – Muslims – for official disfavor and maltreatment,” our brief states. “By instituting a punishing ban on Muslim immigrants, the government runs roughshod over core First Amendment protections.”
We noted the multitude of times that Trump and his surrogates have voiced support for a Muslim ban. Watson looked at these statements to determine whether religion was a factor in issuing the executive order. He ultimately agreed with what judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court in Virginia found when they blocked the government’s first attempt at a Muslim ban: that the executive order likely violates the First Amendment’s church-state separation protections.
Watson also was not convinced by the government’s argument that the executive order targets countries, not religion. As Watson wrote, “[i]t 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.”
In Maryland, U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang also pointed to Trump’s statements when he granted a nationwide injunction early Thursday against the second executive order’s ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries (Chuang did not rule against the order’s refugee provisions).
Federal courts continue to block President Trump's Muslim ban.
“[T]he history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban,” Chuang held.
Chuang also questioned whether the ban was issued for national security reasons. He noted the extreme scope of a six-country ban and the president’s lack of consultation with federal security and immigration agencies.
“Defendants, however, have not shown, or even asserted, that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented six-country travel ban, a measure that has not been deemed necessary at any other time in recent history.”
Trump responded to the Hawaii court decision late Wednesday during a campaign-style rally in Nashville.
Trump said that the second executive order was just “a watered-down version of the first order” that “should have never been blocked to start with. He added, “We ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
“We’re going to fight this terrible ruling. We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court,” he vowed.
And Americans United will continue to fight Trump all the way. You can read more about our involvement in the Muslim ban cases here.