Instead of celebrating a victory at today's campaign style strokefest in Nashville Trump was once again forced to eat crow and whine as a federal judge in Hawaii placed a nationwide hold on his second attempt at a ban on Muslims.
The scaled-back version that targeted six Muslim-majority countries was brought to a screeching halt just hours before the new restrictions were to take effect.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said sections of the new ban likely amounted to a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids the government from disfavoring certain religions over others.
Judge Watson summarily dismissed Trump's argument that the new restrictions applied to a “small fraction” of the world’s 50 predominantly Muslim nations and therefore could not be read to discriminate Muslims specifically.
“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”
The judge also discarded the government’s defense that the text of the new executive order was silent on religion, supposedly solving constitutional defects identified by courts with the first order.
“Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude ... that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, secondary to a religious objective of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims,”
Meanwhile back in Nashville in front of a rally of his faithful Trump criticized what he called the “flawed ruling,” claiming he did to have the power to suspend immigration just before lashing out at what he called...
“unprecedented judicial overreach. This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are,"
Trump added that he would “fight this terrible ruling” all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. He then made the mistake of calling the revised order "a watered-down version of the first order” and that he would prefer to go back to the original thus providing more ammunition to opponents’ arguments that, at their core, are the same.
Not missing the Trump misstep was Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who said on a call with reporters after Trump’s remarks that he...
“should just continue talking, because he is making our arguments for us,”
She's not being glib as seen in Judge Watson decision who singled out Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser, who had in an earlier interview conceded before it was unveiled that it would have the “same basic policy outcome." The judge also highlighted similar comments by longtime Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who all but admitted on Fox News that Trump had asked him look for legal ways to make his Muslims ban work.
The next step for the Trump administration will likely be an appeal of this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the same appellate court that shot down Trump’s first travel ban last month.
Meanwhile related legal challenges in Seattle and Maryland are pending as federal judges in those jurisdictions could issue additional rulings blocking the new travel restrictions in the interim.