President Trump’s proposed travel ban was back in the legal spotlight this week, as a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit weighed arguments from lawyers on both sides of the issue.
Trump’s travel ban has been frozen by two courts, with those challenging the order arguing that it is unconstitutional and aimed at keeping Muslims out of the country. The Justice Department argues that the travel ban is well within the president’s authority to make national security decisions on who may enter the country. The legality of Trump’s revised travel ban was also debated last week by a federal appeals court in Richmond, VA.
As was the case in the hearing last week, there were many questions raised in the Ninth Circuit hearing about whether statements Trump made on the campaign trail before becoming president should be weighed in determining the intent of the travel ban. Trump frequently made mention of banning Muslims during his campaign and Trump’s campaign web site until last week featured a statement calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Neal Katyal, a lawyer representing Hawaii, which is challenging the revised ban, said that document “just happened to disappear moments before the Fourth Circuit argument last week.”
Jeffrey Wall, the acting solicitor general, made the case that “over tine the president clarified that what he was talking about were Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that shelter or sponsor them.”
Wall said the revised order signed by Trump “doesn’t have anything to do with religion.”
To fully reinstate the travel ban, the Justice Department would need favorable rulings from both the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, or the administration could take the dispute to the Supreme Court.