Appeals Court Declares Third Muslim Ban Unconstitutional

Once again, an appeals court ruled that President Trump’s Muslim ban — now in its third iteration — violates the Constitution’s most basic guarantee of religious freedom.

Earlier today, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated that the ban’s purpose has always been and remains to “exclude Muslims from the United States.” The ruling comes at a crucial time, because the Supreme Court will issue its own decision on the ban this summer.

Today’s decision confirms what has been clear since Trump first took office. Throughout his presidential campaign, he consistently promised to block Muslim immigration and even announced a specific plan for achieving that goal: a nationality-based travel ban against people from predominantly Muslim countries. As promised, one week into his presidency, without consulting any federal agencies, he issued an unprecedented ban against people from seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries.

Chaos ensued at airports across the country. Americans showed up in droves to stand up for their families, their neighbors, and their colleagues, driving home the message that religious bigotry has no place in our country. The courts quickly blocked the ban.

Since then, Trump has done everything in his power to carry out his goal. After the first ban was blocked, he instructed the government agencies he had ignored the first time around to “compile additional factual support,” as his lawyers put it, to implement the same basic policy. Sure enough, after three weeks, the president signed a second ban, this time targeting six predominantly Muslim countries. Courts blocked that second version, ruling that the president does not gain the ability to suddenly ban millions of Muslims simply by getting his cabinet to sign off on it.

The courts did, however, allow the administration to implement the president’s order to conduct a study of existing visa vetting procedures, to determine what other restrictions to impose. To oversee that process, Trump installed a Department of Homeland Security official who, like the president himself, had explicitly advocated for a ban on Muslim immigrants and surveillance of mosques in the United States. To no one’s surprise, that process led to a recommendation that the president do what he had already done twice: ban people from predominantly Muslim countries, virtually the same ones named in the first two versions of the ban.

Trump signed the third ban in September. Unlike the first two versions, which were temporary, this one permanently bans people from six Muslim-majority countries. It also bans people from North Korea, which sends almost no one to the United States, and a handful of government officials from Venezuela.

Thankfully, the courts have again roundly rejected the president’s attempt to keep Muslims out of the country. In December, the Ninth Circuit court of appeals ruled that the ban violates U.S. immigration laws, which do not allow the president to remove entire countries from our immigration system. The Supreme Court will hear that case this spring.

Today’s decision is notable because it is the first time an appeals court has ruled that the permanent ban violates the Constitution. The Fourth Circuit rejected the government’s attempt to portray the third ban as completely separate from the first two. As the court explains, “a reasonable observer could hardly swallow the claim that the addition of North Korea and Venezuela to the twice-enjoined travel ban” changed the ban’s basic purpose. The court pointed to “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 evidence is indeed overwhelming. Late last year, Trump posted three anti-Muslim videos intended to sow fear of Muslims immigrants and distrust between Christians and Muslims. And even while his agencies were studying their visa procedures, Trump made clear that he planned to impose the toughest possible ban, no matter what.

The ban, the court held, “strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on religious animosity.” It not only cuts against basic values of equality and freedom, it also does untold damage to thousands of American families, schools, hospitals, and businesses. As the decision says, the ban “inhibits the normal flow of information, ideas, resources, and talent” between other countries and our own. And it “denies the possibility of a complete, intact family to tens of thousands of Americans.” The human tragedies inflicted by the ban are impossible to overstate.

Read More: Living With The Muslim Ban

Despite today's ruling, the ban remains in effect while the Supreme Court considers the case. It is expected to hear arguments in April and to decide by June whether the president may indefinitely exclude millions of Muslims from uniting with their families in the United States. Let's hope the third ban’s rejection by the appeals courts is an indication of its ultimate fate.

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Jane Wong

Your comments are meaningless if you are such a coward that you don't sign your name to them.

Anonymous

According to George W. Bush the enemy is NOT Muslims nor Islam. Obama said the same thing. So why are we treating Americans like this?

Anonymous

Agreed. The enemy is people with the desire to hurt others. This canNOT be generalized to an entire country, race, ethnicity, culture, or religion. We should treat people as they are, people. Individuals as individuals. Not passports, and not "victims" of their own passports or documentation.

Anonymous

The courts need to let Trump keep our country safe and keep these people out!

Snozze...

Don't sleep comfortably, this guy has a few tricks of his sleeve..
People like him don't want to "lose", if he loses he'll find a way and it won't be good. This is guy will continue to chip away at the justice system until he gets what he wants...

Dr. Timothy Leary

I am looking forward to being a Muslim. I won't have to shave anymore, and most importantly, I am required to pray five (5) times a day. What a perfert excuse to goof off at work.

Robert Anton Wilson

One thing Dr. Leary knew that you don't : belief systems are B.S. Look it up

Dr. Timothy Leary

Are you looking to start a Jihad Mr. Wilson ?

Hope Anderson

Dr. Leary was a drug addled nincompoop.

Anonymous

Good Americans, of either party, should watch the documentary "To Be Takei" released in 2014. It's about George Takei, who played the character Sulu in the orginial "Star Trek" series with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols.

As a child and U.S. citizen, U.S. troops, carrying rifles with bayonets, pulled up to his house in California and removed his entire family at gun-point. Most of these U.S. citizens lost almost all of their personal possessions, their homes, their jobs and their businesses. Even when the war ended, these families still faced discrimination.

Many of these same U.S. citizens lost life and limb serving in the U.S. military while their relatives were imprisoned behind barbed-wire at prison camps.

When America abandons it's values and principles, we are capable of adopting the same evil tactics of our worst enemies. Let's not do that to today's U.S, citizens that happen to attend a different church than you do!

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