President Donald Trump and his administration lost again, as another federal appeals court ruled against the travel ban against Muslims.
The Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals agreed with a district court that the ban violates the Constitution and backed a preliminary injunction. However, a December 4 order from the Supreme Court means the ban remains in effect.
“On a human level,” the appeals court contended [PDF], the ban’s “invisible yet impenetrable barrier denies the possibility of a complete, intact family to tens of thousands of Americans. On an economic level, [the ban] inhibits the normal flow of information, ideas, resources, and talent between the designated countries and our schools, hospitals, and businesses.”
It also maintained it “second-guesses” the United States’ “dedication to religious freedom and tolerance. “When we compromise our values as to some, we shake the foundation as to all.”
The appeals court’s decision called attention to the ban’s “primarily religious anti-Muslim objective.”
“Our constitutional system creates a strong presumption of legitimacy for presidential action, and we often defer to the political branches on issues related to immigration and national security. But the disposition in this case is compelled by the highly unusual facts here,” the appeals court stated.
“Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the President of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. [The ban] is thus not only a likely establishment clause violation, but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on [religious animosity].”
In an August 17, 2017, tweet, the President endorsed an apocryphal story involving General Pershing and a purported massacre of Muslims with bullets dipped in a pig’s blood, advising people to “[s]tudy what General Pershing . . . did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
On November 29, 2017, President Trump retweeted three disturbing anti-Muslim videos entitled: “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”
The three videos were originally tweeted by an extremist political party whose mission is to oppose “all alien and destructive politic or religious doctrines, including . . . Islam.”
The government insisted Trump’s actions should not “forever taint” future actions. To that, the appeals court noted he could have taken steps to fix the “taint” by, for example, ending his disparagement of Muslims.
“Instead of taking any actions to cure the ‘taint’ that we found infected [the ban], President Trump continued to disparage Muslims and the Islamic faith.”
“In implicit recognition of the rawness of the religious animus in the President’s pre-election statements, the Government urges us to disregard them. This is a difficult argument to make given that the President and his advisors have repeatedly relied on these pre-election statements to explain the President’s post-election actions related to the travel ban,” the decision read.
Furthermore, the appeals court refused to accept the claim that North Korea and Venezuela’s inclusion in the latest version of the Muslim ban altered the “religious objective” of the “earlier executive orders.”
The current Muslim ban targets individuals from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
A complaint from Muslim Advocates, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Brennan Center for Justice was part of the consolidated cases ruled on by the appeals court.
Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for NIAC, reacted, “Today’s decision by the 4th Circuit again confirms that the United States of America is better than vitriolic bans and barriers. Policies that espouse disdain towards a particular religion or group, and force our neighbors, friends, and family members to live in a state of constant fear, betray what America is all about.
“But even in this period of darkness and hate, we are more confident now than ever before that we will not be divided, and the American ideals that have made us a beacon of hope for the world will survive these hateful immigration policies.”
“Yet again, a federal court has confirmed that blanket bans on Muslims, even when wrapped up in the rhetoric of ‘national security,’ are at odds with American laws and values,” declared Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program. “The President’s discriminatory ban will never pass legal muster.”
“We must continue to be vigilant as the administration pursues other avenues to translate its anti-Muslim bias into policy, such as discriminatory immigrant vetting rules,” Patel added.