President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban on travelers from six largely Muslim countries is unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims because of their religion, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday
In a 9-4 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said it examined statements made by Trump and other administration officials, as well as the ban itself, and concluded that it is “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam.”
The court upheld a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland who issued an injunction barring enforcement of the ban against people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who have bona fide relationships with people in the U.S.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already agreed to hear the travel ban case in April. In December, the high court said the ban could be fully enforced while appeals made their way through the courts.
In its ruling, the 4th Circuit used soaring language to criticize the ban, saying it has a “much broader deleterious effect” than banning certain foreign nationals. The court said the ban “denies the possibility of a complete, intact family to tens of thousands of Americans.”
“On a fundamental level, the Proclamation second-guesses our nation’s dedication to religious freedom and tolerance,” Chief Justice Roger Gregory wrote for the court in the majority opinion.
Trump has said the ban is a legitimate measure to protect national security.
The ruling was the second time the 4th Circuit has rejected a travel ban. In May, the court cited Trump’s remarks on Muslim travelers while rejecting an earlier version of the ban, finding it “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”