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Judge in Virginia declines to block Trump's new travel ban

26 March 2017

Unlike federal judges before him, a judge in Virginia on Friday ruled in favor of President Trump's revised travel ban in a case brought by Muslims who said the president's executive order illegally discriminated against their religion by restricting travel from six majority-Muslim countries.

In a decision hailed by the White House, US District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ruled Friday that the revised travel ban could go forward, seeing the latest version as markedly different from the Trump administration's initial effort.

The revised travel ban, signed March 6, was blocked from being implemented when the Hawaii and Maryland judges ruled that it violated the establishment clause of the Constitution, based largely on statements from Trump and advisers Rudolph Giuliani and Stephen Miller.

Trenga, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in his opinion that "the President has unqualified authority to bar physical entry to the United States at the border".

"Plaintiffs can succeed on their claim that the predominate goal of EO-2 is to discriminate against Muslims based on their religion and that EO-2 is a pretext or a sham for that objective", he wrote.

At this stage of the lawsuit, Trenga concluded, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood to succeed on the merits.

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Republicans in Congress say they lack the votes to pass their US healthcare system overhaul, and a key committee chairman came out in opposition after Trump demanded a vote in a gamble that could hobble his presidency. The ban has also been put on hold by a federal judge in Maryland.

As previously reported on The Root, Trump's original ban was signed on January 27 and halted a week later by a federal judge in Washington State. "The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed", Watson wrote.

Watson blocked the ban hours before it was set to take effect.

CAIR is also representing more than 20 Muslims who are subject to the stigmatization resulting from the executive order.

Indeed, says Banzhaf, the legal argument that the laptop ban is unconstitutional may be stronger than a similar argument regarding the travel ban which has now been enjoined.

According to the Times, the Justice Department has filed an appeal on the Maryland decision, but not the Hawaii case, and Trump has said he wants to take arguments over his precious ban to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said national security did not appear to be the main objective of the ban. Trump's nominee for the vacant seat on the court, Neil Gorsuch, had hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, during which he was asked whether he thought the travel ban constituted a religious test.

Judge in Virginia declines to block Trump's new travel ban