President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people entering the United States from six countries faces its latest legal test on Monday before a federal appeals court in Virginia.
Federal appeals court judges questioned President Trump's motives in signing his extreme vetting executive orders in oral argument Monday, wondering whether his own words suggesting he was singling out certain religions for special treatment have poisoned the entire exercise. The deletion took place minutes after it was referred to during a White House press briefing and minutes before the start of a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on the ban. That would be bad news for a young administration seeking victory on one of its first policy changes.
"This is not a Muslim ban", Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, arguing for the government, told the judges during the hearing that lasted two hours, twice as long as scheduled.
In December 2015, then-candidate Trump called for "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on". "It's still on his website", said Judge Robert B. King, one of the most pointed questioners on the court. In order to fulfill its stated goal on national security, he argued, it would have applied to a different set of countries than those targeted by the order.
The American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center say President Trump wants the courts to "blind themselves to the ample, public, and uncontested evidence" that the policy targets Muslims.
"I don't think I need to clarify what we have said or what the president said". "I just don't know where this stops".
As a result, the crux of the issue on appeal is likely whether the 4th Circuit agrees it is permissible to look outside of the four corners of the executive order to examine its goal.
Trump issued the March executive order after federal courts blocked an earlier version, issued on January 27 a week after he took office, that also had included Iraq among the nations targeted.More news: Emmanuel Macron labelled 'a gay psychopath who hates France' in Russian media
The Republican president's travel ban also was blocked by federal judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii in a separate legal challenge. Still, a federal judge in Maryland blocked part of it and another federal judge in Hawaii placed a nationwide injunction on the whole order.
A federal judge in Hawaii has also blocked the six-country travel ban as well as the freeze on the USA refugee program.
But 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?" Interior will review prior monument designations made by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Conflicting district court decisions could push the case to the U.S. Supreme Court more quickly.
The court said that two Republican-appointed judges - Judge Allyson K. Duncan and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III - won't hear the case.
It's unclear when the 4th Circuit Court will rule on the matter. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate his first executive order after it was blocked by a Washington district court.
The first decree - which prompted mass protests and sowed chaos at United States airports - was blocked on grounds it violated the ban on religious discrimination, a ruling upheld on appeal.
This is the White House's second effort to impose a travel ban. A federal district court judge in Washington State and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit stopped the ban in its tracks - after a chaotic first few days at global airports and a round of visa cancellations by the State Department.