5/23/2017
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US judges ask if travel ban is anti-Muslim


Tuesday May 16, 2017

Federal judges have peppered a lawyer for US President Donald Trump with questions about whether the administration's travel ban discriminates against Muslims - the second time in a week the rhetoric has faced judicial scrutiny.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall defended the travel ban on Monday, telling the three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals that the executive order should be reinstated because it falls well within the president's authority.

"No one has ever attempted to set aside a law that is neutral on its face and neutral in its operation on the basis of largely campaign trail comments made by a private citizen running for office," he said.

Further, Wall said the president had backed off the comments he made during the campaign, clarifying that "what he was talking about was Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that sponsor or shelter them."

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Neal Katyal, who represented Hawaii, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, expressed disbelief at that argument and said Trump had repeatedly spoken of a Muslim ban during the presidential campaign and after.

"This is a repeated pattern of the president," Katyal said.

The 9th Circuit panel was hearing arguments over Hawaii's lawsuit challenging the travel ban, which would suspend the nation's refugee program and temporarily bar new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The judges will decide whether to uphold a Hawaii judge's decision in March that blocked the ban.

Last week, judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether to affirm a Maryland judge's decision putting the ban on ice. They also questioned whether they could consider Trump's campaign statements, with one judge asking if there was anything other than "willful blindness" that would prevent them from doing so.

Dozens of advocates for refugees and immigrants rallied outside the federal courthouse in Seattle, some carrying "No Ban, No Wall" signs.
 



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