US appeals court says Trump’s travel ban motivated by 'religious intolerance'

US appeals court says Trump’s travel ban motivated by 'religious intolerance'
President Donald Trump’s travel ban unfairly discriminated against Muslims, a federal appeals court ruled, upholding most of the previously issued injunction against it.

Trump’s executive order from January 27 “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination,” wrote Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Virginia-based US Appeals Court in the 4th circuit.

In a 10-3 decision, the majority of judges ruled that they were “unconvinced” the executive order was motivated by national security concerns rather than a “Muslim ban.”

“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,” Gregory added.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded Thursday, saying, "The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court, which blocks the President's efforts to strengthen this country's national security. As the dissenting judges explained, the executive order is a constitutional exercise of the President's duty to protect our communities from terrorism. The President is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States," NPR reported.

Along the same lines as the injunction issued by the 9th Circuit court in California, the 4th Circuit judgment quotes Trump’s statements from the campaign trail to argue that the “ban on all Muslims entering the US” shows the president’s executive order was motivated by bigotry rather than national security.

“Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims,” wrote Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. in a concurring opinion.

The plaintiffs, which included several individuals and organizations, claimed that the executive order caused “injury to their family relationships,” and that the “anti-Muslim message animating [the executive order] 2 has caused them feelings of disparagement and exclusion.”

International Refugee Assistance Project and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society claimed that they had committed significant resources to dealing with the consequences of the second executive order, and that “they will suffer direct financial injury from the anticipated reduction in refugee cases.”

Judge Stephanie Thacker agreed with the majority, but noted in a separate opinion that the court “need not – and should not – reach this conclusion by relying on statements made by the President and his associates before inauguration.” 

Thacker warned her colleagues that adjudicating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution should focus on governmental action, rather than “judicial psychoanalysis” of individuals, and that “looking to pre-inauguration conduct is neither advisable nor necessary.”