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4th Circuit’s Opinion on International Refugee Assistance Project v. Donald Trump

In a 10-3 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that President Trump’s revised Executive Order, which suspended the entry into the United States of nationals from certain Designated Countries, was unconstitutional. The Court opinion addressed the President’s second executive order, Executive Order No. 13780, which was a revised version of the travel ban announced in March (Executive Order No. 13769) and subsequently deemed unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Gregory noted that the travel ban, which targeted six countries, “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The Court upheld the lower court’s decision that blocked the travel ban. It weighed the importance of the travel ban in relation to national security concerns against potential infringement on one’s freedom of religion, and ultimately determined that the travel ban violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.

The action, which was brought on behalf of various organizations and individuals affected by the entry restrictions, resulted in the continued enforcement of the preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the Executive Orders and upheld the refusal to reinstate the President’s 90-day travel ban on foreign nationals from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as the 120-day entry ban and decreased admission limits on refugees. Using the President’s own words and his campaign rhetoric, the Court surmised that the motivation for both Executive Orders was President Trump's desire to exclude Muslims from the United States.

The Court found that the district court erred by issuing the injunction against the President himself as it recognized that in general, it had no jurisdiction to enjoin the President in the performance of his official duties.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that the United States Justice Department will seek further review by the United States Supreme Court.

Lexis Subscribers can find the opinion at: Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9109 (4th Cir. 2017)

Lexis Advance subscribers can find the opinion at:  Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9109

Notice: The decision text available thru Lexis and Lexis Advance is the first available text from the opinion court; it has not been editorially reviewed by LexisNexis. Publisher's editorial review, including Headnotes, Case Summary, Shepard's analysis or any amendments will be added in accordance with LexisNexis editorial guidelines.

Author:  Sheri Steinmetz, Lexis-Nexis Case Law Editor

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