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Federal Judge Blocks Key Parts Of Trump's New Travel Ban

A federal judge in Hawaii issued a restraining order against key parts of President Donald Trump's new travel ban on March 15. The ban against travelers from six Muslim-majority countries was set to start on March 16.

Law Newz reports that U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson's ruling blocks Trump's ban on "entry into the United States" from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. The ruling also blocks the 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The Trump administration asserted that the new travel ban did not target a specific religion, which would be tantamount to discrimination. However, Watson ruled that Trump’s past statements show that his new executive order is aimed at a particular religion: "[A] reasonable, objective observer -- enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance -- would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral purpose ..."

Watson also noted in his ruling that a local Muslim leader and the state of Hawaii have "a strong likelihood of success on their claim" that the travel ban targets Muslims, and violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, reports POLITICO.

Watson rejected the "illogic" of the Trump administration's assertion that the new ban does not specifically target Islam because it does not ban travel from all Muslim-majority countries.

"The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed," Watson ruled. "The Court declines to relegate its Establishment Clause analysis to a purely mathematical exercise."

Watson's ruling applies "in all places, including the United States," and is the second time Trump has hit a hurdle in his travel ban efforts.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart in Seattle placed an indefinite injunction against Trump's first travel ban in February. Trump vowed to appeal that injunction, but then opted to issue the second ban, instead.

Robart heard legal arguments from those who fined the two lawsuits against the second travel ban on March 15.

Robart turned down requests from plaintiffs to extend his injunction (against the first travel ban) to the second ban, but he could still block the second travel ban with a new injunction (although the second ban has already been blocked by Watson).

U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland also held a hearing on the second travel ban on March 15. Chuang did not say if he intended to issue an injunction against it.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the media that Watson's ruling was being reviewed. A Justice Department spokeswoman would not provide an immediate comment.

Sources: Law Newz, POLITICO / Photo credit: United States District Court for the District of Hawaii/Wikimedia Commons

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