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President Donald Trump addresses a crowd of his supporters at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee just after a federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday issued a nationwide injunction against his proposed travel and immigration ban. (Photo: Twitpic/The Hill)

Judge Blocks Ban: "Human Decency" Over Trump's "Disgraceful" Discrimination

Citing establishment clause of the First Amendment, federal judge orders nationwide injunction against president's immigration ban

Common Dreams staff

Citing the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which forbids unequal treatment based on religion, a federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday evening issued a firm rebuke to President Trump by issuing a nationwide temporary injunction against the administration's second attempt at instituting a travel and immigration ban aimed at people from six Muslim majority countries.

"The Constitution has again put the brakes on President Trump's disgraceful and discriminatory ban. We are pleased but not surprised by this latest development and will continue working to ensure the Muslim ban never takes effect." —Omar Jadwat, ACLUThe ruling by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson came just hours before the executive order signed by Trump was slated to go into effect (see below). Watson cited the harm the ban would inflict on the state and those directly impacted as reason to issue the sweeping injunction and said government lawyers defending the White House had failed to make their case that the executive order was not discriminatory.

"The illogic of the government's contentions is palpable," Watson wrote in his decision. "The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed."

Watson explained that the travel ban proposed by Trump violates constitutional protections because "a reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequences of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion"—specifically Islam.

Read the full order issued by the court here.

Cecilia Wang, deputy legal director for the ACLU, celebrated the ruling:

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, joined his colleague in welcoming the news.

"The Constitution has again put the brakes on President Trump's disgraceful and discriminatory ban," Jadwat declared in a statement. "We are pleased but not surprised by this latest development and will continue working to ensure the Muslim ban never takes effect."

Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), expressed gratitude and called for the president to give up his flawed policy.

"We welcome this order as confirmation of the strength of our nation's system of checks and balances that prevents one branch of government from violating the Constitution or the rights of any vulnerable group," said Awad.  "We urge the Trump administration to scrap this Muslim ban entirely because it disrespects both the Constitution and America's longstanding tradition of religious freedom and inclusion."

Meanwhile, Trump himself addressed a rally of supporters in Nashville, Tennessee just after the news of Watson's ruling broke. As the Huffington Post reports:

Trump led a booing audience at a rally in Nashville Wednesday night in criticizing what he called the "flawed ruling." The president claimed he has the power to suspend immigration, and slammed what he called "unprecedented judicial overreach."

"This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are," Trump complained. He added that he would "fight this terrible ruling" in the Supreme Court if necessary.

Watch Trump's remarks:


Immigrant rights advocates are ready to take action if courts don't rule before 12:01am Thursday, when President Donald Trump's revised travel ban is set to go into effect.

The reworked executive order, unveiled earlier this month, blocks entry to the United States to people from six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and temporarily shuts down the country's refugee program. While its roll-out will almost certainly be less chaotic than the ban's first iteration, it has still been decried as "religious discrimination in the pretextual guise of national security," "unconstitutional," and likely to "do real damage to refugees and to America's reputation."

Judges heard arguments for and against the order in three separate courtrooms on Wednesday.

"In Maryland, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang—who was appointed by former President Barack Obama—said he would try to rule before the end of the day, but he made no promises that his ruling would apply nationwide or address the executive order in its entirety," as the Associated Press reported.

The case in Hawaii was underway on Wednesday afternoon.

And at 5:00pm Eastern Wednesday, a Seattle-based federal judge will hear a request to block the revised directive the president signed last week. As Politico explains, "[t]he private suit is separate from the one brought by Washington and other states, which prompted [Judge James] Robart's injunctions against the original travel ban order. The states have also filed a motion seeking to block Trump's new order, but the judge hasn't indicated yet whether he plans to hold a hearing on that request."

The Guardian reported Wednesday:

Should the federal courts decline to extend the current restraining order, and in turn allow the new ban to kick in at midnight, all eyes will swing to the main U.S. arrivals ports, notably Dulles [in Washington, D.C.], JFK in New York, LAX in Los Angeles and O'Hare in Chicago. When the first ban came into effect on 27 January, those airports saw scenes of extraordinary chaos and confusion, and become focal points of mass protests.

While provisions of the revised order suggest "similar scenes of pandemonium are much less likely to be witnessed at midnight Thursday," the Guardian noted that volunteers and activists are standing at the ready at major airports nationwide. 

Other groups are reportedly planning protests for Saturday. Human rights advocates Arjun Sethi, Deepa Iyer, and Linda Sarsour have also created the No Ban, No Wall, No Raids resource, with a list of upcoming resistance efforts as well as updates on litigation and guidance for immigrants.

Follow the developments under the hashtag #NoBanNoWallNoRaids:

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