SIEGEL: So that’s a sense of what you could glean from what the judges made of all this based on what they said in court today. “Are his statements irrelevant?”
The decision by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, is likely to turn on whether Trump’s statements during and after the campaign can be used as evidence that the ban is meant to discriminate against Muslims.
“It is an archived press statement from 16 months ago”, he said.
The ACLU and National Immigration Law Center brought the case on behalf of several organizations, as well as people who live in the USA and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries.
Highlighting the unpredictable nature of the case, Omar Jadwat, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was also subjected to sharp questioning by judges.
Justice Department lawyers arguing on behalf of the Trump administration must make the case that the decree is necessary to ensure national security – and that it does not amount to the so-called Muslim ban Trump had threatened to impose while running for office. “And you are saying there’s something wrong with that?” Judge James A. Wynn Jr. said. “I just don’t know where this stops”.
Before the hearing at least 50 people marched around the courthouse to express opposition to the travel ban.
“He’s using the words that the media is using”, a frustrated Spicer said, in response to reporters’ questions at the time. “This is not a Muslim ban”, Wall asserted.
During a press briefing Monday, the White House said it had a “very robust schedule” of releasing names of nominees and that the process is different because the names are going through the Office of Government Ethics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I don’t want them in the country”. At one point he asserted that the order would be lawful if it had been issued by another president who had not made inflammatory comments about Islam.
Wall said the president needs only a facially legitimate and bona fide reason for the order.
During Monday’s hearing Wall, the acting solicitor general, told the court that the broader ruling in Hawaii had prevented the state department and the homeland security department from conducting further reviews of immigration vetting that the temporary stay on visas had been created to bring about. He repeatedly cited a 1972 decision in which the justices upheld an order denying a visa to a Belgian communist who was due to speak at Stanford University.
“What we have been doing since January 27 is just litigating this order”, he answered. “The president is not allowed to set a policy violating the establishment clause” by invoking national security, he told the judges. He said Trump later explained the aim was to protect the country against such groups as the Islamic State and al-Qaida.
“In the Maryland case”, the Los Angeles Times wrote in March, “U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang’s decision quoted Trump’s campaign vows to suspend Muslim immigration as evidence that “the national security goal is not the primary objective of the travel ban”.
In his first week as president, Donald Trump issued an executive order that barred entry to the USA for people traveling from several predominantly Muslim countries, along with several other categories of immigrants and foreign visitors.
Three judges appointed by President Bill Clinton will hear the Trump administration’s appeal of Hawaii’s so-far successful challenge to the president’s travel ban that targets six predominantly Muslim countries.
The judges did not indicate when they might rule on the case.
Nonetheless, a clear majority of the court’s judges appeared unwilling to simply ignore Trump’s statements. It should apply only to the single plaintiff, he said, not the entire nation.