On Monday, March 6, Donald Trump signed another executive travel ban. Instead of pursuing a likely dead end in lengthy litigation on the first ban which affected seven primarily Muslim countries— and also banned those person holding visas and green cards, the Trump Administration decided to start anew. The second round ban exempted Iraq—still including the same six other Muslim countries. It further made provisions for those with Green cards and visas to be exempted. However, not much else changed in the real sense of showing a need for a travel ban to Muslim countries.
And before the ban took effect, it was shut down by federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland. Nothing had really changed from the first ban. The first one was shut down in federal court in the State of Washington placing a hold on the ban. One day after announcing the new travel ban, Hawaii wasted no time at all in filing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii—much like the earlier one filed in the State of Washington last month.
I give the Trump Administration an “A” on persistence and a “F” on execution. The most recent travel ban met the similar fate as the first one for the very same reasons. The earlier ban met its fate as the Trump administration and Justice Department failed to articulate any real security concerns for a travel ban to seven Muslim countries.
Removing Iraq from the list was done at the request of apparently the State Department due to its Iraqi translators. And the travel ban’s exemption of Green cards and visas still does not address if there is any real security reason or threat for a Muslim country travel ban. The Administration failed to be able to effectively address those security concerns last month. And courts work on evidence and not campaign promises.
These federal courts wasted no time in showing the Trump administration how the three branches of government work. Both courts recognized the ban was solely against Muslims and therefore violated our constitution. The judiciary branch shut down the ban as unconstitutional. And the executive branch of government, a la Mr. Trump, has no alternative but to either further appeal its case in court or attempt yet another travel ban.
Mr. Trump is learning a lesson that many litigants learn once in court. One’s prior words can be used against you in both civil and criminal court. And Mr. Trump’s prior tweets, speeches and words on needing a ban to expel Muslims from our country and prevent Muslims from entering was the reason for the ban. In one press release issued during the campaign, Trump called for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims. His own words caused his defeat. There is no national need for security concerns.
An unlawful travel ban by any other words is still unlawful. Mr. Trump’s actions are unconstitutional, against the first amendment on freedom of religion and quite frankly, un- American. If he wants to make America great again, which many persons seriously doubt, he can start by upholding the US Constitutional in his executive orders.
Freedom of religion is what democracy and America looks like. Mr. Trump has yet to learn this civics lesson.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, member of the Supreme Court bar, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor. She is often seen in the media addressing legal and political issues.