On May 25, 2017, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that blocked President Trump’s revised travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries. The first travel ban was issued in January, but that ban was also halted by an earlier court. The Executive Order (EO) that contained the revised travel ban was issued on March 6, 2017 and targeted travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Had the EO gone into effect, Nationals from these six counties would have been blocked from entering the U.S. for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. The revised EO did not block Nationals from Iraq, which had been listed in the earlier EO, and it removed a complete ban on Syrian refugees.
The 4th Circuit Court ruled 10-3 to uphold the lower court’s decision that barred the Trump administration from implementing its revised EO. In the ruling, Chief Judge Roger Gregory made it clear that any changes made to the revised travel ban that removed any mention of religion did not fix the fact that the order unfairly and illegally targets Muslims. Further, Chief Judge Gregory wrote that comments made during Trump’s presidential campaign do matter and cannot be ignored when looking at the revised travel ban. Gregory wrote, the EO “cannot be divorced from the cohesive narrative linking it to the animus that inspired it,” he wrote. “We find that the reasonable observer would likely conclude that [the EO’s] primary purpose is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs.” It is likely that the case will now be appealed to the Supreme Court.