Trump's Comments on Muslims at Center of Travel Ban Case

Angie Massey
May 9, 2017

Jeffrey Wall, the acting solicitor general, representing the Trump administration, argued that the executive order had a legitimate national security objective, allowing the government to assess the reliability of background information on visa applicants from six countries associated with terrorism. The court filing by the Trump administration described the revised order as a "temporary suspension of entry", or a chance to pause and come up with better vetting procedures.

"This is not a Muslim ban", Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall told the court, Reuters reported.

The countries were chosen because they present terrorism risks and the ban applies to everyone in those countries regardless of religion, Wall said.

Replied Jadwat, "It's not where it ends, but where it begins in the first place".

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 objective. 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. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in that case next week.

The Justice Department will be back in court next week to argue again in defense of the second version of the executive order.

In fact, Monday, one week from today, a federal appeals court for the 9th Circuit will hear related arguments in a case brought by the state of Hawaii. The president revised his original travel ban in March, but its implementation was stopped by judges in Maryland and Hawaii.

Wall said "no", and Jadwat said "yes".

Judge Robert B. King said that, to him, that is one of the most important questions in the case. Yet, he said, "That's where you all are like two ships passing in the night".

"We can not fault the president for being politically incorrect, but we do fault him for being constitutionally incorrect", the attorney general said.

There also were several references during arguments to a statement on Trump's campaign website calling for a Muslim ban, which was taken down on Monday.

Jadwat said Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric continued even after he was elected.

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"Candidates talk about things on the campaign trail all the time", Wall said.

Wall said the policy was created to give the administration time to review the vetting procedures for granting visas from countries previously identified as areas of "concern" by Congress and the Obama administration.

He even said the same executive order would be valid if it had been imposed by a different president who never made any anti-Muslim statements.

King said the government and the challengers, with their opposite views of the importance of Trump's campaign statements, "are like ships in the night".

"Are you agreeing that the order is legitimate on its face?" Numerous judges on Monday suggested they could not ignore the president's previous statements. Judge James Wynn Jr. asked Wall. And that, the plaintiffs say, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. "We took an oath and formed a government".

"What we have been doing since January 27 is just litigating this order", he answered.

Jadwat was asked whether it would make a difference if Trump repudiated his past statements about a Muslim ban. What is the ACLU saying?

After the executive order was suspended by USA courts, Trump issued another decree with a more limited scope. The injunction is supported by dozens of advocacy organizations, legal scholars, religious groups, former government officials, members of Congress and states including Virginia.

After the first executive order was blocked in court and the president signed the second one, "Sean Spicer said all the principles remain the same", said Judge Henry Floyd, referring to the White House spokesman. Wilkinson is the father-in-law of Wall.

It was not immediately clear why Duncan isn't on the panel. Larsen and Newsom would replace judges who also were nominated by Republicans.

Most Democrats refused to support Gorsuch because they were still seething over the Republican blockade previous year of President Barack Obama's pick for the same seat, Merrick Garland.

President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, gave Gregory a recess appointment to the 4th Circuit in December 2000. President George W. Bush, a Republican, nominated Gregory to the same position in May 2001.

Other reports by GizPress

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