A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia refused on Thursday to reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries, paving the way for the issue to be settled by the Supreme Court.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 10-3 that the second version of the ban—which was overhauled precisely to avoid the legal defeats of the first one—contains the same fatal flaws as its predecessor, which numerous courts ruled discriminated on the basis of religion. The ruling was blunt about the bigotry it saw at the ban’s core, saying it “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
Trump made good on his campaign trail promise to issue a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration into the country with an executive order in January, which he signed on Jan. 27, just one week after the inauguration. Weeks later, the Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco affirmed an order blocking its implementation. The ban also sparked massive protests at ports of entry around the country.
With the original ban ensnared in legal challenges, the Trump administration started work on a revised order, which dropped Iraq from the list of countries suspending from entering the country for 90 days (with Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Libya, and Somalia remaining on the list) and eliminated a total ban on refugees from civil war-ravaged Syria from entering the country.
If the Supreme Court does take the case, it would be the first major test of the judicial independence of Trump’s appointee to the Court, Neil Gorsuch.