Appeals Court to Take Up Revised Trump Travel Restrictions

Appeals Court to Take Up Revised Trump Travel Restrictions
Mon May 8, 2017 13:36:01

Candidate Donald Trump's calls for a ban on Muslim immigration are at the heart of a challenge to his revised executive order restricting travel, to be considered Monday by a federal appeals court.

To those who successfully sued to stop enforcement, his statements are clear proof that the order was based on religious discrimination. But to the Trump administration, they are irrelevant, because all that counts is what the president said and did after he took the oath of office.

The government is urging the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, to lift a stay imposed by a federal judge in Maryland on March 16 blocking the administration from carrying out the executive order. The full 15-member court will consider the appeal, bypassing the normal first step of a hearing before a three-judge panel.

Justice Department lawyers say the court should evaluate the words of the executive order and the administration's explanation for its purpose, avoiding "judicial psychoanalysis" of what Trump may have meant during the campaign.

"Statements of what candidates might attempt to achieve if elected, which are often simplified and imprecise, are not official acts," the government says. Courts must judge the constitutionality of the executive order by what it says, "not by what supposedly lies at the heart of its drafters."

But the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a group of refugee aid organizations and Muslim residents whose overseas relatives are seeking visas, says Trump never disavowed his plan to target Muslim immigration.

"President Trump publicly committed himself to an indefensible goal: banning Muslims from coming to the United States," and the court should consider those statements in deciding whether the executive order is based on anti-Muslim animus, the ACLU says.

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