Virginia court rules in favor of Trump in travel ban dispute, order still suspended

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Immigration activists demonstrate outside the US Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington

By Mica Rosenberg

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge in Virginia ruled on Friday that President Donald Trump‘s travel ban was justified, increasing the likelihood of the measure reaching the Supreme Court as the decision took a contrary view. to the courts of Maryland and Hawaii that have stopped order.

United States District Court Judge Anthony Trenga rejected Muslim plaintiffs’ arguments claiming that Trump’s March 6 executive order temporarily bar entry of all refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries it was discriminatory.

The decision went against two previous court rulings that emergency suspended the order before it took effect on March 16. The order remains suspended.

Trump has said he plans to appeal those unfavorable rulings to the US Supreme Court if necessary, and the differing opinions of the lower courts give further reason for the higher court to take up the case.

Trenga, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, said the complaint backed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group, found that more than 20 people who sued had been able to show that they were harmed by the travel ban as they may not be able to reunite with their families.

But it also ruled that Trump’s revised order, which replaced a broader version signed Jan. 27 and rejected by the courts, was within the president’s authority to make decisions on immigration.

He said that since the order did not mention religion, the court could not look beyond Trump’s remarks about a “Muslim ban” to determine what was in the “heart of the redactor’s hearts.”

Trump has said the ban is necessary to protect the country from terrorist attacks, but his first order was stopped by a federal judge in Seattle and a U.S. appeals court in San Francisco over concerns that it violated the Constitution’s ban. of the United States against religious prejudice.

“We are confident that the fully legal and necessary action by the president will finally be able to advance through the rest of the judicial systems,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing.

CAIR said it would appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Lena Masri, CAIR’s national director of litigation, said the 4th Circuit and the Supreme Court “are the judicial bodies that will ultimately decide whether the Constitution protects the rights of American Muslims.”

ANOTHER COURT ACTION

A ruling by US District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, ended the two central sections of the revised ban that blocked travelers from six countries and refugees, while leaving other parts of the country. the order instead.

US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland, also appointed by Obama, only stopped the travelers section.

Virginia’s lawsuit sought to overturn the revised ban in its entirety.

Watson scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to decide whether his temporary order blocking travel and refugee restrictions should be turned into a more formal preliminary injunction. The Justice Department has said it would oppose that offer.

The government appealed Chuang’s decision in Maryland, also to the Fourth Circuit, and a hearing in that case is scheduled for May 8.

Other lawsuits against the ban continue to advance across the country. Also on Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups filed a new lawsuit in the United States District Court in Washington DC on behalf of the Muslim community organizations.

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