Travel ban arguments focus on Trump's comments about Muslims

Court of Appeals Chief Justice Roger Gregory during an interview in his office in Richmond Va. Gregory will preside over the full 15-judge court will hear the a lawsuit challenging Pres

Travel ban arguments focus on Trump's comments about Muslims

In his March ruling, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang called Trump's own statements about his intention to impose a Muslim ban "highly relevant" and granted a preliminary injunction against the ban nationwide.

A panel of 13 appeals court judges in Virginia will hear a challenge to President Donald Trump's revised executive order targeting six predominantly Muslim countries. Judge Robert King responded: “Hes never repudiated what he said.”. Both judges were appointed to the court by Republican presidents. They concluded the hearing without issuing a ruling, which could takes weeks to finalize. Enforcement of the revised order - imposing a 90-day ban on travel from Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, but not Iraq - was to take effect March 16. "There has to be some deference" to the president's decisions about national security, he added. He made clear that he was not talking about Muslims all over the world, and that's why this is not a Muslim ban. "Its text doesn't have anything to do with religion".

"This is not a Muslim ban", Wall told the judges on Monday. "The religious discrimination at the heart of President Trump's first Muslim ban remains the fatal flaw of his second".

But Judge Barbara Milano Keenan said that could mean a candidate for president could call for a Muslim ban every day for a year, enact a cleverly worded plan that accomplished that on his first day in office, and have courts ignore whether targeting Muslims was his real goal.

But Monday, the statement on the ban was quietly taken down.

Jadwat claims the administration has failed to provide a legitimate national security reason for the policy.

"The basic question in this case is whether the mountain of evidence that exists as to the improper motive is going to be looked at by this court or swept under the rug", Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said before the hearing.

More news: Access Hollywood, Washington Post via CNN Video

To a packed audience in the ornate pre-Civil War era courthouse, Judge Pamela Harris said Trump's action clearly had a disparate impact on Muslims, asking, "How is this neutral in its operation as to Muslims?"

"Is there anything other than willful blindness that will prevent us from getting behind those statements?" "The President has made clear why he's doing this". "What about his speeches to businessmen about 20 years ago?" They fear their immediate relatives will be blocked from joining them under the travel ban.

The hearing marked the first time a legal challenge to the revised executive order has reached a court of appeals after being blocked by two federal judges in March.

The 4th Circuit judges asked Wall what had been done by the administration since Trump signed the two orders to improve vetting procedures, given that the 90 days the administration said it needed for a review after the order was first signed in January had passed.

Elite universities, democratic attorneys general and former foreign policy and national security officials like ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on the court to block the travel ban. He said the administration is not discriminating against any religion and has no intent to discriminate.

Attorneys for the president likely see the moderate 4th Circuit as friendlier territory than the 9th Circuit, which conservatives have long accused of being too liberal. They also skipped the initial step of having the case heard by a panel of just three judges.

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