By Ian Duncan
Maryland U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang ruled Thursday against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, establishing a double barrier preventing the policy from going into effect.
For Trump's order banning entry for people from several majority-Muslim nations ban to begin, the Justice Department will now have to persuade judges in two federal appeals courts to overturn rulings against it.
The new executive order, issued March 6, had been scheduled to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. The Trump administration tweaked a previous order, which also had been blocked by the courts, to try to avoid claims that it constituted a "Muslim ban."
But Chuang, who sits in Greenbelt, and a federal judge in Hawaii looked to the president's past statements and concluded that the ban still discriminated on the grounds of religion.
Chuang found that the executive order likely violated the Constitution's religious freedom protections and that some of its provisions violated parts of federal immigration law.
Chuang acknowledged that the courts should typically defer to the executive branch on national security matters but that security concerns could not be used as a cover for religious discrimination.
"While the travel ban bears no resemblance to any response to a national security risk in recent history, it bears a clear resemblance to the precise action that President Trump described as effectuating his Muslim ban," Chuang wrote.
"Thus, it is more likely that the primary purpose of the travel ban was grounded in religion, and even if the Second Executive Order has a national security purpose, it is likely that its primary purpose remains the effectuation of the proposed Muslim ban."
Chuang did not put on hold provisions of the executive order suspending the admission of refugees into the United States. The judge in Hawaii did.
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