A federal appeals court on Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which would have prevented people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Roger Gregory said the president’s order uses “vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The decision out of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed the travel order a violation of constitutionally proscribed “establishment of religion.”
Silicon Valley’s elected officials applauded the ruling, which U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promptly vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court. Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said the court’s decision sends a message to the president: the Constitutional rights matter.
“The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly prohibits the government from attacking a particular religion,” Cortese said Thursday. “Furthermore, the federal government has not established a link between barring citizens from these six countries from entering the U.S. and its ability to ensure security from within our borders.”
Several states challenged Trump’s travel order—his second attempt to enact a three-month ban on people from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also sought to block all refugees for four months and reduce their admission by half going forward.
This county joined the lawsuit seeking to halt Trump’s revised travel ban, calling it an unconstitutional attack on immigrants and religious minorities. It also bears troubling similarities to the 1942 executive order that enabled authorities to round up 120,000 Japanese Americans and detain them in internment camps.
“Despite the President’s attempts to revise it, the travel ban is still unconstitutional,” county counsel James Williams said after filing the brief in March. “Targeting individuals because of their religion and national origin is illegal and undermines the values of our nation and Santa Clara County.”
The county has also mounted a legal challenge against another executive order, one that would withhold funding from jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked that order as well.
This week, however, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the court to reconsider that ruling. Williams said the request does nothing more than put the administration’s “losing arguments from the hearing into writing.”
“It shows that the Trump administration continues to scramble in an attempt to save an executive order that is fundamentally unconstitutional and cannot be cured,” Williams said.“Santa Clara County will continue to fight vigorously to defend the injunction and its constitutional rights.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also filed amicus briefs urging judges to uphold both suspensions of Trump’s orders. “The administration already has suffered a string of well-deserved defeats in the courts,” Becerra said in a written statement. “President Trump should read the Constitution.”