by Itunuoluwa Adebo
President Donald Trump’s controversial political statements followed him to court, where judges seem skeptical that his revised travel ban was based on national security rather than his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Thirteen judges on the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit were considering the case, and, during the hearing, judge after judge asked acting solicitor general Jeffrey B. Wall about the statements Trump made during the campaign and also afterwards concerning the muslim ban.
Wall said the order temporarily suspending foreign travellers from six major Muslim countries was to protect the United States by reviewing the vetting of those who are potentially dangerous. That is not only within the president’s authority, Wall said, it is his responsibility.
Judge Barbara Milano Keenan countered this saying could call for a Muslim ban every day for a year, enact a cleverly worded plan that accomplished that on his first day in office, and have courts ignore whether targeting Muslims was his real purpose.
The Trump administration’s new policy temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and blocks new visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In March, a judge in Maryland and another in Hawaii halted enforcement of critical sections, pointing to comments by Trump and top advisers indicating that they wanted to bar Muslims from entry.
Wall pointed out that the ban did not affect Muslims from countries other than the six mentioned in the order, and said the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that in matters of immigration and national security, the president’s judgment is not open to judicial second-guessing.
“It is not a Muslim ban,” he said. The 4th Circuit is considering whether to leave in place the Maryland decision siding with challengers who say the order violates First Amendment prohibitions on government condemnation of a particular religion.