- Two federal judges have now blocked President Donald Trump’s third travel ban just hours before it was set to take effect.
- The ban targeted eight countries: Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Libya, North Korea, and Venezuela.
- In his opinion, US District Judge Theodore Chuang said the ban was unconstitutional and resembled the “Muslim ban” Trump vowed as a presidential candidate to implement.
A federal judge in Maryland issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against President Donald Trump’s third travel ban late on Tuesday, dealing the second legal blow to the ban within hours.
US District Judge Theodore Chuang said in his ruling that the travel ban violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and “generally resembles” the Muslim ban that Trump vowed as a presidential candidate to implement.
Chuang also said in his ruling that the Trump administration had “not shown that national security cannot be maintained without an unprecedented eight-country travel ban.”
A federal judge in Hawaii had granted a temporary restraining order against the ban just hours before Chuang did, ruling not that it was unconstitutional, but that it violated federal immigration law.
Unlike the Hawaii ruling, which blocked most of Trump’s travel restrictions from being imposed, Chuang’s ruling only applies to those without a “bona fide” relationship to a person or entity in the US.
Trump’s latest ban is the the third iteration of his much-litigated attempt at halting travel from certain nations due to purported national security reasons. The third ban targeted eight countries, imposing various restrictions on travelers from Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.
Chuang, in his opinion, concentrated heavily on whether Trump’s third travel ban was akin to a Muslim ban, and how Trump’s previous statements factored into that assessment. He noted in the ruling that Trump has never disavowed the calls for a Muslim ban he made as a candidate.
“There is no record of public statements showing any change in the president’s intentions relating to a Muslim ban,” Chuang wrote. He added that as recently as August 2017, Trump had “tweeted a statement that a method hostile to Islam — shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig’s blood — should be used to deter future terrorism.”
Chuang was referring to Trump’s tweet about General John Pershing, who was falsely rumored to have dipped bullets in pig’s blood before executing Muslim prisoners in the Philippines in the early 20th century.
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
The American Civil Liberties Union represented the plaintiffs in the Maryland case, and on Wednesday morning celebrated Chuang’s ruling.
“Like the two versions before it, President Trump’s latest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core. And like the two before it, this one is going down to defeat in the courts,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “Religious discrimination with window dressing is still unconstitutional.”
Travel bans 1.0 and 2.0
The new restrictions on the eight named countries came after the first two versions of Trump’s travel ban, which targeted only majority-Muslim nations, faced multiple court challenges.
Trump’s second travel ban was partly implemented, and the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments on its constitutionality in October. But the justices removed oral arguments from the schedule after part of the second ban expired and Trump issued the third ban as a replacement in September.
It’s likely that the third ban will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, as well, though it must go through the appellate court system first.
Almost immediately after Watson issued the temporary restraining order on Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced it would appeal the ruling.
“Today’s ruling is incorrect, fails to properly respect the separation of powers, and has the potential to cause serious negative consequences for our national security,” the department said in a statement.
The White House said in a separate statement that the ban was vital for “the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.”
“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” the statement said.
As the plaintiffs only sought to challenge the ban as it pertained to majority-Muslim countries, they did not include in their lawsuit the restrictions on travel from Venezuelan government officials or North Koreans. The ban therefore took effect against those countries on Wednesday.