Thursday, February 9, 2017

Constitution Versus Trump

On February 3, 2017, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking (nationwide) U.S. President Trump’s recent Executive Order (signed January 27, 2017) effectively banning nationals from seven (predominantly Muslim) countries from entering the United States.  The Trump team requested that the Judge stay the order whilst they file an appeal.  The judge refused.  As a result, the travel restrictions (trump himself has repeatedly referred to the Muslim Ban) which would have impacted hundreds of thousands in the first few weeks alone, was lifted effective immediately.

  The states of Washington and Minnesota filed the Complaint based on Constitutional grounds and  survived early standing challenges (at least for now).  The judge found sufficient legal standing in favor of Plaintiffs.  The state of Hawaii also  joined Washington and Minnesota  in challenging Trump's order, and the  lawsuit alleging that the order is unconstitutional and asking the court to block the order across the country.

Many believe Trump's order to be flagrantly unconstitutional;  a thinly veiled, blatant targeting of individuals based on religious beliefs.  Opponents of the Executive Order argue that it is a direct violation of the First Amendment’s Establishments Clause because it operates in a manner favoring Christians over Muslims. Aside from barring persons from listed countries, the order suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program for one hundred and twenty days, no matter a refugees country of origin. After this timeframe, the executive order directs the secretary of state, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security to make changes to the extent permitted by law, to priorities refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religion based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individuals country of nationality”. The limitation in the clause is arguably biased when viewed against the back drop of the Muslim-majority countries. This is because the religion of an individual (who practices a minority religion in a Muslim-majority country) will most likely be a Christian (or other non-Muslim religion). Thus the ban is designed to favor Christian refugees and disadvantage Muslim refugees in Muslim countries facing persecution. The ban constitutes a blatant violation of the first amendment establishment clause because it helps Christian refugees because they are Christian but does not help Muslim refugees because they are Muslim.

Above you will find links to the key documents in this ongoing battle.  This post will be updated as the fight progresses. Stay tuned.

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