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Another Loss for Trump: 4th Circuit Says Trump’s Muslim Ban Unconstitutional

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Is Trump tired of winning yet?

The 4th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals announced its ruling on Trump’s Muslim ban today, writing that the ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

The ruling actually addresses Trump’s second Muslim ban, the revised version that was announced in March and targeted six countries. As in previous cases, Trump’s own words were used against him as judges determined that Trump’s campaign rhetoric meant that the ban was, in fact, intended to discriminate against Muslims. As NPR noted, either this case or one of the other lawsuits against the travel ban is likely to eventually end up before the Supreme Court.

4th circuit ruling: Ban is “invidious discrimination”

Advocates have lifted up particularly strong parts of the ruling, which compared the ban to slavery and Japanese internment:

Invidious discrimination that is shrouded in  layers of legality is no less an insult to our Consitution than naked invidious discrimination. We have matured from the lessons learned by past experiences documented, for example, in Dred Scott and Korematsu. But we again encounter the affront of invidious discrimination — this time lawyered under the guide of a President’s claim of unfettered congressionally delegated authority to control immigration and his proclamation that national security requires his exercise of that authority to deny entry to a class of aliens defined solely by their nation of origin. Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Maryland, and National Immigration Law Center brought the challenge on behalf of HIAS, the International Refugee Assistance Project, the Middle East Studies Association, and individuals affected by the ban.

National Immigration Law Center

The statement from Karen Tumlin and the National Immigration Law Center highlighted Trump’s string of losses in the courts as well as his greater xenophobic agenda:

The Fourth Circuit’s decision today is yet another resounding indictment and rejection of the Trump administration’s Muslim and refugee ban. While the administration has tried to justify its ban under an unfounded and unclear cloak of national security, the courts continue to call it out for what it is: religious intolerance, racial animus, and discrimination.

The court’s opinion upholds our most sacred and cherished constitutional principles by again affirming what our founders intended when writing the First Amendment — that our government may not favor or disfavor one religion over another, or establish any one particular religious orthodoxy. Our founders were clear in protecting that fundamental principle more than 200 years ago, and our institutions continue to stand guard to ensure it endures any and every attempt to undermine it.

While the spotlight today is on the Muslim ban, the truth is that this executive order is just one part of President Trump’s xenophobic agenda. We will continue to fight to ensure that all people — regardless of where they were born, what they earn, or how they pray — can live freely and be treated fairly in this country.


Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project said:

President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms. 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.

Becca Heller, Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, said:

Once again, the courts have confirmed that the Muslim Ban is discriminatory and harmful. The President cannot simply slap the words ‘national security’ on an unconstitutional policy and get away with it. We will fight this ban for as long as it takes.


Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, noted the people power that has stood up to both bans and the ongoing fight against Trump’s agenda.

The groundswell of public protest against the bans has been inspiring and unrelenting. The people have spoken, as has the judicial branch. The courts have reaffirmed that HIAS’ challenge to this unconstitutional order will likely succeed, and communities across the country continue to stand up against the Muslim ban.

The American Jewish community owes its very existence to America’s willingness to welcome refugees and immigrants of all faiths. Many of our own families arrived in America seeking freedom from religious persecution. We cannot now be silent—we will continue to fight for the values that truly make America great.