Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Arguments On Trump’s Muslim Ban
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia heard arguments on the injunction against Trump’s revised Executive Order banning Visas to citizens from 7 predominately Muslim countries. The appeal stems from a ruling handed down in March by a federal judge in Maryland who blocked the enforcement of a key portion of President Trump’s revised Executive Order. The International Refugee Assistance Project brought the claim and the Justice Department has appealed.
Yesterday, oral argument began with a judge requiring Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall to explain why two provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act do not conflict.
“Wall was asked why one provision in the law, which prevents discrimination based on nationality in the issuance of visas, doesn’t limit another, which gives the president authority to block certain immigrants from entering the country. That difference, between issuing a visa and barring entry, is key to this case — if the latter provision is not blocked by the first, then the president’s executive order is in violation of the law.”
Judge Barbara Keenan questioned the revised Executive Order for its failure to support that allowing foreign nationals into the country would be “detrimental” to the national interest. Wall replied that the Trump wanted time to review vetting procedures. Judge Keenan responded, “He has to find that they would be detrimental to the interest of the U.S.”
The Judges took note of public statements made by Trump during his campaign. While the government has argued that Trump’s campaign statements don’t matter because they happened before he was inaugurated, Judge Robert King said “all that stuff was reaffirmed after the election.” The Judge pointed out that Trump’s comments about a Muslim ban were still on the president’s website at the time the district court issued its underlying order blocking provisions of the travel ban.
Judge Henry Floyd asked Wall if there was “anything other than willful blindness” that should prevent the court from considering those comments. Wall replied that respect for the president and his authority would, and that the lower court had applied the wrong standard in deciding whether to look at the statements in the first place.
The actual issue is whether the order is facially illegitimate. Judge Dennis Shedd gave a hypothetical—if a president had a clear animus against a religious group, but that group clearly posed a threat to the country, could the president “act in any way” against that group. Jadwat said yes, if there’s a national security risk, but added the risk doesn’t exist in the current case.
The revised order bans entry by immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries. Plaintiffs in the case include refugee and Muslim rights organizations, as well as individuals affected by the order—mostly those with loved ones in the six targeted countries.
You can hear the 2-hour oral argument at this link.