A federal judge in Virginia has sided with President Trump, ruling that his revised temporary travel ban appears lawful. Judge Anthony Trenga concluded Trump’s past statements about the ban were no longer sufficient evidence that the revised ban’s intent was religious discrimination. From CNN:
“This court is no longer faced with a facially discriminatory order coupled with contemporaneous statements suggesting discriminatory intent,” Trenga explained. “And while the President and his advisers have continued to make statements following the issuance of EO-1 (the first executive order) that have characterized or anticipated the nature of EO-2 (the revised ban) the court cannot conclude for the purposes of the motion that these statements, together with the President’s past statements, have effectively disqualified him from exercising his lawful presidential authority.”…
“The substantive revisions reflected in EO-2 have reduced the probative value of the President’s statements to the point that it is no longer likely that plaintiffs can succeed on their claim that the predominate purpose of EO-2 is to discriminate against Muslims based on their religion and that EO-2 is a pretext or a sham for that purpose,” Trenga added.
The Associated Press describes the ruling as a “major victory” for the Trump administration and cites the reasoning of Judge Trenga that the decision is within Trump’s authority:
The legal issue, Trenga wrote, is not to determine whether the executive order “is wise, necessary, under- or over-inclusive, or even fair.”
The judge, a George W. Bush appointee, said his job is simply to determine whether the order “falls within the bounds of the President’s statutory authority or whether the President has exercised that authority in violation of constitutional restraints.”
At this stage of the lawsuit, Trenga concluded, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood to succeed on the merits.
Two other judges, in Hawaii and Maryland, put a restraining order in place which prevents the executive order from going into effect while the underlying claim is being adjudicated. This ruling does not change that.
Nevertheless, a spokesman for the Department of Justice released a statement to the Hill saying, “As the Court correctly explains, the President’s Executive Order falls well within his authority to safeguard the nation’s security.”