Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Virginia federal judge says prejudice motivated Trump immigration order

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In  an opinion issued this week in Tarek Aziz v. Donald J. Trump federal District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema found that the President's Executive Order - halting immigration from seven Muslim majority countries -was motivated by intentional discrimination based on religion.  In the action - joined by the Commonwealth of Virginia - the court cited Trump's call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States".  The Court also cited former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's statement that Trump had asked him to help, saying "show me the way to do it legally".

The court also cited a statement by ten former high ranking security officers (including four whose information is recent) that there have in fact been no terrorist acts committed in the U.S. by citizens of the seven affected countries.  The result is a unique finding by a court that religious animus motivated a facially non-discriminatory order of the President.
The court found that the state's unrebutted evidence showed that they were likely to prevail on the merits - proving that the Order violated the First Amendment bar on the establishment of a state religion. The court therefore enjoined the Executive Order.

We can hope that this is a first swallow of spring: that courts will  prove themselves a bulwark against the erratic and dangerously authoritarian occupant of the White House.

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