Another US judge refuses to support Trump’s travel ban

Published February 14th, 2017 - 03:00 GMT
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks to the media after a hearing February 10, 2017 in front of a US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Herring attended the hearing for a request he filed to block the travel ban executive order issued by President Donald Trump. (AFP/Alex Wong)
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks to the media after a hearing February 10, 2017 in front of a US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Herring attended the hearing for a request he filed to block the travel ban executive order issued by President Donald Trump. (AFP/Alex Wong)

A federal judge in Virginia on Monday issued a preliminary injunction to bar the enforcement of President Donald Trump's travel ban to and from seven Middle Eastern countries, based significantly on its singling out of Muslim individuals as its target.

US District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema made Virginia the third state to stop the enforcement of Trump's executive order blocking travel to and from the countries on Monday evening, ruling the executive order is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.

The Trump administration has received a series of court rulings that halted some or all of the travel ban signed by the president on Jan. 27, and has said it may abandon the original order and pursue the same goal by issuing new executive orders.

The order bars citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East -- Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen -- for 90 days, and has caused problems for US residents and green card holders, as well as businesses and colleges across the country.

Monday's ruling applies only to the state of Virginia, unlike those in Washington and in the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which apply to the entire country.

Brinkema's ruling also differs from the previous two because it stops enforcement of the order based on a violation of the First Amendment -- that it is a ban aimed specifically at Muslims -- based on Trump's words on the campaign trail and since taking office.

"A person is not made brand-new simply by taking the oath of office," Brinkema wrote. "The 'Muslim ban' was a centerpiece of the president's campaign for months, and the press release calling for it was still available on his website as of the day this Memorandum Opinion is being entered... The president connected that policy to this EO when, asked last July if he had abandoned his plan for a Muslim ban, he responded, 'Call it whatever you want.'"

Focusing only the "harms" of the executive order on Virginia residents -- at least 350 students attending universities in the state, and countless state residents with a green card -- Brinkema said the administration has yet to provide evidence of how the executive order will make the country safer, or or even described the process by which the president concluded that this action was necessary."


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