Friday, May 12, 2017

Third US judge 'inclined to agree' Trump's ban is unconstitutional

Judge Tanya Chutkan of Washington, DC says two lawsuits against Trump's 'Muslim ban' will probably succeed
Trump's first effort, in January, banned travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees (Reuters)

Thursday 11 May 2017
A US federal judge on Thursday indicated that she will block Trump’s travel ban executive order if the administration successfully overturns previous federal court decisions.
US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan of Washington, DC said Iranian-Americans will probably win two lawsuits against the government’s second travel ban executive order, which prohibits visas for six Muslim-majority nations as well as halts the admittance of refugees.
“The court is inclined to agree with Plaintiffs that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims with respect to Sections 2 and 6 of the Second Executive Order,” Chutkan said in her review.
The National Iranian American Council, a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, issued a press release praising Chutkan’s conclusion.
“We are encouraged that Judge Chutkan is ‘inclined to agree’ with us that Trump’s Muslim ban is unconstitutional,” wrote Shayan Modarres, NIAC’s legal counsel.
Chuktan’s decision adds to previous decisions by other federal courts that issued suspensions to Trump’s travel ban. A judge in Maryland placed a nationwide hold on the travel ban, but the Trump administration appealed the decision, which is currently being reviewed in the Fourth Circuit court. And a judge in Hawaii placed a similar stay, where the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco plans to hold hearings next week.
Chutkan’s review does not delve into the legality of Trump’s travel ban, but rather concluded to refrain from a decision until the fourth and ninth circuit issue a ruling.
“Because both existing preliminary injunctions are actively being considered on appeal by the Fourth and Ninth Circuits this month and the continued existence of these injunctions will directly impact this court’s analysis, the court finds that the most appropriate course of action is to temporarily stay resolution of the Plaintiffs’ motions pending the outcome of the current appeals,” Chutkan wrote.
“In the event that both existing injunctions are overturned, this court is prepared to issue a ruling without delay,” she added.
Trump's first effort, in January, banned travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees, but it was halted by a court in Washington state on the grounds that it violated the constitution's prohibition of religious discrimination.
That block was upheld on appeal, and the administration said it would revise the ban to better adhere to the law. 
The new ban has run into similar problems.
It aims to close US borders to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and all refugees for at least 120 days. Iraq was on the original ban but was removed in the revision.
The White House said the six countries were targeted because their screening and information capabilities could not meet US security requirements.
While the ban does not mention Muslims, the courts have accepted arguments that Trump's statements while he was running for president last year that he would open his White House term with a ban on Muslim arrivals effectively defined his approach.