A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, has declined to re-instate President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries for three months.
In a ruling Thursday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the order did amount to a Muslim ban: “Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims,” the appeals court judges said in their 205-page ruling.
The panel of 13 judges ruling in the case cited Trump’s tweets, television interviews and statements posted on his campaign website as evidence of his intent.
The panel heard arguments in the case in early May. An attorney for the government had argued that the Trump administration’s second attempt to curb travelers and immigrants from some majority-Muslim countries had nothing to do with religion.
In March, a federal judge in Maryland blocked the travel ban, which itself was a revised version of one initially issued in January that was tweaked after encountering legal roadblocks. The appeals court judges did not think the second version was an improvement: “Significantly, in revising the order, the executive branch did not attempt to walk away from its previous discriminatory order. Instead, it simply attempted to effectuate the same discrimination through a slightly different vehicle — the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
The Trump administration’s next recourse is to take the case to the Supreme Court. Appeals court documents say the administration has 90 days to do file an appeal.
A second appeals court, the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, is also considering an appeal of a stay against the travel order, this one issued by a judge in Hawaii. But any ruling from that court has been rendered moot by Thursday’s Fourth Circuit ruling.