Dems Shop Around, Find Two Federal Judges to Strike Down Trump’s Revised Travel Ban
After President Trump’s first executive order ban on refugees from violent Islamic countries was struck down by two activist federal judges, Trump worked with some of the top legal minds to revise the language. The judges claimed that it unconstitutionally discriminated against the religion of Islam.
The new version removed Iraq from the list of countries banned for 90 days, leaving Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It exempted people with green cards and visas and removed a provision that appeared to prioritize acceptance of those whose religion was a minority in their home country. Those with new visas were banned from entering the U.S. for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. It was to go into effect yesterday.
Despite the changes, the revised version has just been struck down by two more federal district court judges. As with the original ban, left-wing activists went judge shopping in order to find liberal judges who would rule against Trump.
Peculiar Judicial Decisions
Watson cited one of Trump’s campaign press releases: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” However, that is not what Trump ending up doing with his travel ban as president; instead, he banned entire countries.
U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson, an Obama appointee who presides in Honolulu, issued a 43-page ruling on Wednesday. It came out less than two hours after listening to arguments, a sign he had already made up his mind and started writing the opinion well in advance. Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland, also an Obama appointee, issued an opinion this morning. Chuang’s opinion only struck down the travel ban portion of the executive order.
A career government lawyer, Chuang was once accused by a Republican senator “of having a role in frustrating Congressional efforts to investigate the death of a U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, while he was serving on a special assignment at the State Department.” U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who blocked the initial travel ban last month, will also be issuing an opinion.
Judge Watson said the state had established “a strong likelihood of success” on the claim of religious discrimination. He also based his opinion on an assertion that the ban would hurt tourism. This is strange, since Hawaii has yet to accept any refugees. Perhaps he was referring to the foreign relatives of people currently in the state. However, the California man who is part of the lawsuits said his overseas mother hadn’t visited him in over 12 years. A 90-day ban probably wouldn’t change much there.
Judge Watson reasoned that since the six countries listed in the travel ban are over 90 percent Muslim, it amounts to a ban on that religion. He ignored the fact that up to 10 percent of the population in those countries are not Muslim yet still subject to the ban.
Strangely, instead of analyzing the federal law providing authorization for the travel ban, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f), the judges referenced Trump’s remarks about radical Islam that he made during the presidential campaign, not as president. Judge Watson called them “highly relevant.” Watson cited one of Trump’s campaign press releases: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” However, that is not what Trump ending up doing with his travel ban as president; instead, he banned entire countries.
Interestingly, Judge Chuang disagreed in part. Chuang said the plaintiffs didn’t sufficiently develop their argument that a temporary ban on refugees discriminates on the basis of religion.
Since immigration is a federal issue, the decisions by the federal court judges to continue the injunction apply across the country. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld the injunction against the ban last month, which prompted the Trump administration to rewrite the executive order.
Trump strongly denounced both rulings. During a rally in Nashville today, he criticized the judges for failing to discuss the immigration law authorizing the travel ban, 212(F). “Even if you’re a bad student,” he said, “this is a real easy one. … Here is the real statute, which they don’t even want to quote when they overrule it. And it was put here for the security of our country.”
Trump went on to emphasize the national security interest against Islamic terrorism: “We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people.”
This ruling makes us look weak — which by the way, we no longer are, believe me. … This is a watered down version of the first one. I was elected to change our broken down and dangerous system and thinking in government that has weakened and endangered our country, and left our people defenseless. And I will not stop fighting for the safety of you and your families, believe me. Not today, not ever. We’re gonna win it.
Although the two decisions will now be appealed to circuit courts which lean to the left, it is very likely the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately make the final decision. Trump is confident of success at the high court, saying during today’s rally, “Even liberal democratic lawyer Alan Dershowitz — good lawyer — just said that we would win this case before the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Many of the news accounts of these two court decisions revealed their bias: They left out any discussion that the ban could be upheld by the Supreme Court, as well as any analysis of 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f), which clearly gives the president the authority to issue immigration bans. If this continues, random liberal judges could be dictating US immigration and foreign policy, in direct contradiction to the US Constitution.