A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the injunction against the Trump Administration’s ban on residents of six Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.
In a 10-3 ruling, judges sided with the lower court in its decision to indefinitely block central parts of Trump’s March executive order barring people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for a 90 day period and suspending the refugee program for 120 days.
Although the revised executive order (after an earlier version was ruled likely unconstitutional by a judge in Seattle) did not explicitly mention Muslims or Islam, the court ruled that the intent was to target people based on religion.
The new version, Chief Judge Roger L Gregory wrote in his ruling, contained “vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
Gregory referred to a number of statements made by Trump on the campaign trail, including his statement vowing to pursue a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. Gregory also cited an interview Trump gave with Christian Broadcasting News on Jan. 27 2017, in which he said that his executive order was designed to give preference to Christian refugees.
Gregory wrote that the order “cannot be divorced from the cohesive narrative linking it to the animus that inspired it,” and that the national security explanation was a “post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.”
“President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in a statement. “The Constitution’s prohibition on actions disfavoring or condemning any religion is a fundamental protection for all of us, and we can all be glad that the court today rejected the government’s request to set that principle aside.”
The next stop, should the Trump Administration choose to pursue the ban, would be the Supreme Court. The Ninth Circuit is weighing a separate appeal to the ban, but has not indicated when they plan to rule on it. Even if that court rules in Trump’s favor, the ban cannot be reinstated while the nationwide injunction, affirmed by the Fourth Circuit, is in place.