Federal Judge Halts Trump’s Travel Ban
by Stephen Lendman
The Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment Clause states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Citing it, Hawaii-based US District Court Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), halting Trump’s travel ban nationwide, blocking it from taking effect on March 16, saying:
“(A) reasonable, objective observer…would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said Trump’s ban exceeded his authority “motivated by an anti-Muslim animus.”
Trump defiantly called Judge Watson’s TRO “unprecedented judicial overreach,” vowing to challenge it “as far as it needs to go,” including to the Supreme Court.
An appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the likely next step. According to constitutional lawyer Danielle McLaughlin, “Trump’s campaign rhetoric was pivotal in the Hawaii court’s decision, as it was in the earlier decisions halting his first travel ban.”
“During his campaign, Trump promised a ban on Muslims entering the country. This is discrimination on the basis of religion, which is unconstitutional.”
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) director Nihad Awad said “(w)e view this order as confirmation of the strength of our nation’s system of checks and balances that prevents one branch of government from violating the Constitution or the rights of any vulnerable group.”
“We urge the Trump administration to scrap this Muslim ban entirely because it disrespects both the Constitution and America’s longstanding tradition of religious freedom and inclusion.”
A Justice Department statement said it “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.”
It bans entry into America from designated Muslim countries for 90 days, halting refugees for 120 days, limiting admissions to 50,000 during FY 2017.
On Wednesday, arguments for and against Trump’s travel ban were also heard in Maryland and Washington state. Seattle District Court Judge James Robart said he’ll issue a written ruling, not indicating when his decision will be made.
Maryland District Court Judge Theodore Chuang said he might issue a narrow ruling, short of addressing a nationwide ban.
Over half a dozen states so far are trying to stop Trump’s travel ban. On Monday, 14 state attorneys general filed a supportive amicus brief in Hawaii District Court.
They argued that the revised ban retains unconstitutional elements of the original one, targeting predominantly Muslim countries alone and suspending refugee admissions.
The Supreme Court may have final say on this contentious issue. If it splits 4 - 4, a lower court ruling will stand.
Trump’s order is politicized, unrelated to protecting US borders or national security as claimed. Final judicial say may rule it unconstitutional.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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