US appeals court declares Trump travel ban unconstitutional

Trump Travel Ban Unlawfully Discriminates Against Muslims US Court Says

President Donald Trump speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, during a meeting with state and local officials about infrastructure.

President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries violates the US Constitution by discriminating on the basis of religion, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday in another legal setback for the policy.

"The Muslim ban has a devastating impact on US families waiting to reunite with their family members, foreign students seeking educational opportunities, and others who would otherwise be eligible for visas to travel to the United States", said Mariko Hirose, IRAP's Litigation Director. The Supreme Court issued an order on December 4 allowing the ban to go fully into effect while the appeals in the 9th Circuit and the 4th Circuit went forward. However the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether or not the ban will stand.

In its ruling, the 4th Circuit said the ban has a "much broader deleterious effect" than banning certain foreign nationals.

US Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the 4th Circuit ruling "does not alter the status quo, and we look forward to ultimate resolution of these issues by the Supreme Court".

Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote the majority opinion.

The 4th Circuit found that Trump had expressed "what any reasonable observer could view as general anti-Muslim bias".

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Muslims in New York City pray following a protest to the mark the first anniversary of the Trump administration's travel ban by executive order.

Gregory wrote in the main opinion that even if the proclamation was "facially legitimate" - that the text on its face didn't run afoul of the constitution - it failed the test of whether the government had a "bona fide" reason for adopting it.

The issue pits an administration that considers the restrictions necessary for Americans' security against challengers who claim it is illegally aimed at Muslims and stems from Trump's campaign call for a "complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the U.S.

The Supreme Court had decided in December that it would allow the latest travel ban to take effect while litigation ran its course.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Paul Niemeyer said the 4th Circuit's ruling was an attempt to "second-guess US foreign policy, in particular, the president's discretionary decisions on immigration, implicating matters of national security".

Thursday's ruling upheld a Maryland-based district court judge's decision in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents several advocacy groups including the International Refugee Assistance Project. In May, the court cited Trump's remarks on Muslim travelers while rejecting an earlier version of the ban, finding it "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination".

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