June 12 (UPI) — For the second time in four months, a San Francisco-based federal appeals court on Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s order to cut off U.S. travel for immigrants from six largely Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Trump administration’s second attempted travel ban just 17 weeks after it struck down the first.
Monday’s decision upheld a ruling in March by a Hawaii judge that blocked part of the president’s order from going into effect nationally. A Maryland court blocked the other half of the order. Arguments in the appeal of the Hawaii ruling were made last month in Seattle, where the 9th Circuit also has a courthouse.
The court’s decision Monday follows a ruling last month by a Virginia panel that also upheld a nationwide injunction against Trump’s revised executive order, based partly on the reasoning that the U.S. government cannot establish a national religion.
The crux of the court’s ruling Monday was that Trump exceeded his authority by assessing national security threats related to immigration without sufficient cause.
“The order does not offer a sufficient justification to suspend the entry of more than 180 million people on the basis of nationality,” the court said in its decision. “National security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power.
The White House said Monday that it was reviewing the court’s decision.
The court cited two previous Supreme Court cases in its conclusion — including one in 1944 involving the containment of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II, an idea that then-Justice Frank Murphy said “falls into the ugly abyss of racism.”
In its ruling Monday, the appeals court said U.S. Code 1182(f) requires that “the President exercise his authority only after meeting the precondition of finding that entry of an alien or class of aliens would be
detrimental to the interests of the United States. Here, the President has not done so.”
For months, Trump has said his temporary travel ban is a national security measure intended to keep potential terrorists out of the United States while his administration formulates an appropriate immigration policy.
Critics, though, have said the effort is merely an attempt to follow through on a campaign promise for a “Muslim ban.”
The Virginia court ruled that the president’s policy was “steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group.” The majority noted Trump’s campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the country.
After his first order was defeated in federal court, Trump criticized the judges for their rulings. In April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions did likewise about the revised order, saying he was “amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”
The appeals court, though, said that “immigration, even for the president, is not a one-person show.”
“We conclude that the president, in issuing the executive order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress,” 9th Circuit judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez wrote.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to immediately reinstate Trump’s ban — another indication that the administration intends to take the issue all the way to the country’s highest court.
Trump’s revised travel ban removed Iraq from the list of nations barred from sending immigrants to the United States, but again listed six others — Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Iran . It also dropped language giving Christians in affected nations the first chance to apply for visas and refugee status, and added language to make clear that existing green card and visa holders are exempt, which was a point of confusion with the first order.