Leah Millis / Reuters
A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that President Donald Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban is likely unconstitutional, writing that, it “continues to exhibit a primarily religious anti-Muslim objective.”
The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a lower court injunction that blocked the Trump administration from enforcing the travel ban, but put its order on hold while the US Supreme Court takes up the issue of the ban.
The president’s third travel ban is already before the Supreme Court, after the 9th Circuit ruled in December that it violated federal law. The 9th Circuit did not rule on the issue addressed by the 4th Circuit — whether the ban amounts to religious discrimination in violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause — but the justices asked for briefing on the constitutional question as well.
The 4th Circuit sided in favor of the groups challenging the ban in a 9-4 decision. Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote in the majority opinion that the government’s “proffered rationale for the Proclamation lies at odds with the statements of the President himself.”
“Plaintiffs here do not just plausibly allege with particularity that the Proclamation’s purpose is driven by anti-Muslim bias, they offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President,” Gregory wrote.
Gregory cited Trump’s “disparaging comments and tweets regarding Muslims,” the president’s repeated references to a Muslim ban, the fact that Trump’s previous travel bans were focused on majority-Muslim countries, and statements by Trump and his advisors that the latest order has the same goals as the previous ones.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.