Immigration Law

DOJ lawyer tells 4th Circuit that Trump's travel order 'is not a Muslim ban'

  • Print.

President Donald Trump

Judges on the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had tough questions for the acting solicitor general Monday as the en banc court considered President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

Judges asked Jeffrey Wall whether Trump’s statements about a Muslim ban should be considered in assessing whether his order is motivated by religious hostility, in violation of the establishment clause, report the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Washington Post, the New York Times and Courthouse News Service.

Wall said most of Trump’s statements were made before he took office and “candidates talk about things on the campaign trail all the time.” He also argued that the order relates to national security and the president has broad authority to protect the country.

“This is not a Muslim ban,” Wall said.

The revised order bans for 90 days new visas for travelers to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The previous visa ban had included Iraq, but it is no longer on the list because of its efforts against ISIS. The revised order also imposes a 120-day ban on refugees.

Wall said the temporary ban gives the administration time to create a better vetting process for issuing visas to those in the six countries. Trump isn’t saying all people from those countries are dangerous, Wall said. “He’s saying, ‘I’m not certain.’”

Omar Jadwat, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, also faced tough questions. Judge Paul Niemeyer asked how far back the court should go in looking at Trump’s statements.

“Can we look at his college speeches?” Judge Niemeyer asked. “How about his speeches to businessmen 20 years ago?”

Jadwat said Trump’s statements during the campaign were “more probative.”

Related articles: “4th Circuit oral arguments for travel ban will be broadcast on C-SPAN” “How will Trump’s new travel ban order hold up in court?”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.