Richmond, Virginia, USA : The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Virginia ruled on Thursday that the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban is unconstitutional citing that it unlawfully discriminates against Muslims.
The court said it examined official statements from Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, and found it “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.”
The most recent iteration of the ban bars people from eight countries — six of which are predominantly Muslim — from coming to the U.S.
The court upheld a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland who issued an injunction barring enforcement of the ban against people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who have bona fide relationships with people in the U.S.
The Supreme Court had decided in December that it would allow the latest travel ban to take effect while litigation – in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, and the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia – ran its course.
In that ruling the supreme court granted the administration’s request to fully enforce the third incarnation of Trump’s travel ban affecting six Muslim-majority countries – Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
The ruling rolled back lower court rulings that restricted enforcement based on bona fide relationships with US persons or businesses. Such exempt relationships had included grandchildren, grandparents, nieces, nephews and cousins of US persons.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco had argued before the supreme court that since June, “multiple government agencies have conducted a comprehensive, worldwide review of the information shared by foreign governments that is used to screen aliens seeking entry to the United States,” according to The Hill.
“Based on that review, the proclamation adopts tailored entry restrictions to address extensive findings that a handful of particular foreign governments have deficient information-sharing and identity-management practices, or other risk factors,” Francisco said.
In late December, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the third iteration of Trump’s travel ban, saying it goes against federal law. Today’s 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ruling means litigation in the appeals courts have run it’s course and will now shift to the supreme court
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments for and against the current version of the travel ban, updated in September to include some Venezuelan officials and North Korea. Lower courts have already approved those two latest additions to the list of countries.
The Supreme Court last month agreed to review the legality of Trump’s travel ban in April.