May 25, 2017 – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld an injunction against President Trump’s highly contested travel ban that targets six Muslim majority countries and blocks refugees from around the world. The court found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the ban violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which forbids the government from favoring or disfavoring any religion. There were 13 judges on the panel; ten voted to continue the injunction, while three dissented.
The Fourth Circuit’s ruling upholds a lower court’s earlier decision to block key portions of the executive order indefinitely. The revised ban was announced in March, but was never put into effect due to federal courts stepping in. A nationwide injunction also remains in place as a result of litigation in the Ninth Circuit. A three-judge panel of that circuit heard arguments earlier this month but has not yet issued its ruling.
“We salute the Fourth Circuit’s ringing affirmation of religious freedom and equality,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “There is now overwhelming judicial consensus that the president’s Muslim ban is not only cruel and unnecessary, but unconstitutional as well. President Trump should rescind the ban once and for all so we can move past this truly shameful chapter in this administration’s short history.”
“The Fourth Circuit’s decision upholds the foundation of religious freedom our country is built on,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “If allowed to go into effect, President Trump’s Executive Order would put our safety and security at risk while causing massive hardship and disruption in the lives Muslim and immigrant families. The Fourth Circuit has rejected the government’s appeal to fear and intolerance, and has confirmed that America must remain true to its best principles as a land of optimism and opportunity.”