US appeals court weighs legality of Trump travel ban

US appeals court weighs legality of Trump travel ban”

For the second time in a week, government lawyers will try to persuade a federal appeals court to reinstate President Donald Trump's revised travel ban - and once again, they can expect plenty of questions Monday about whether the ban was created to discriminate against Muslims. The 4th Circuit heard the case with all its judges, a step the 9th Circuit did not take.

The Justice Department argues Trump issued his order exclusively to protect national security.

"How is a court to know if [the executive order] is a Muslim ban in the guise of national security justification?"

The three judges considering the matter in the 9th Circuit - Hawkins, Gould and Richard Paez - were appointed by President Bill Clinton. "There was no reference to Japanese in that executive order", he said, "and look what happened".

Wall told the judges Trump had "clarified that what he was talking about were Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that shelter or sponsor them". The lawyer for the state of Hawaii, which brought this case, says the order is essentially that Muslim ban that President Trump and his advisers have talked about. When Wall replied that it would not, Paez pressed him, noting that Roosevelt's order was "facially legitimate".

"I want to be very clear about this", Wall said solemnly. It's widely expected that one of the pending lawsuits will, eventually, be appealed to the Supreme Court. United States. That's the executive order that led - or that case concerns the executive order that led to the Japanese internment camps during World War II.

But on Monday, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, arguing on behalf of the Trump administration, urged the judges not to delve into a "wide ranging inquiry into subjective motivation" in considering Trump's past comments on Muslims, because "the (executive) order on its face doesn't have anything to do with religion and in operation doesn't distinguish on the basis of religion".

The proposed ban has followed a rocky path so far: After the 9th Circuit blocked Trump's first travel ban, the president's lawyers rewrote some of it and, after another judge in Hawaii blocked that order the case has now gone to a different set of judges on the 9th who considered that revised version on Monday.

A crowd rallied in protest outside an appeals court in the western city of Seattle, where a panel of federal judges was weighing the legality of the contested immigration order - which has twice been blocked by the courts since January.

Monday's hearing was the second major legal test for the revised travel ban in the span of a week.

Various lower courts, however, have ruled that the ban was created to discriminate against Muslims, citing Trump's divisive comments from the stump as evidence.

Wall said yes, but the criteria would have to be "really high" to prove Trump actually meant to ban Muslims, which would be prohibited under the First Amendment.

Gould asked Katyal if the court could uphold Watson's injunction based on the immigration law claims if the appeals court didn't agree with the constitutional claim.

The judges, Katyal said, only need to ask a simple question: "Is this executive order, viewed from the standpoint of an objective observer, an establishment of a disfavored religion - Islam?" He pointed to, among others, Trump's statement in December 2015 calling for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States". One judge even asked if there was anything other than "willful blindness" that would prevent them from doing so, a less than encouraging sign for Trump's lawyers as they headed to court Monday in Seattle.

Wall argued that the president had said "several things approaching" a repudiation of his campaign trail comments.

The President subsequently issued the revised order in early 6 March, taking Iraq off the list of seven Muslim-majority countries.

And in yet another judicial development concerning the ban, a federal judge in MI last week ordered the Trump administration to turn over communications from former NY mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and other Trump's advisers whose comments judges nationwide have pointed to as they have ordered to freeze the ban. "You open the door to so much", Katyal said.

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