It might be prudent to keep a close watch on the president’s Twitter feed tonight and tomorrow: Another “so-called judge” has put a hold on his new, revised, and supposedly court-proof travel ban.
Federal District Judge Derrick Watson of Honolulu granted a temporary restraining order requested by the State of Hawaii to prevent implementation of the sections of the revised travel ban relating to refugees and new visas, due to go into effect tonight at midnight EDT. And he did so based on the one rationale all the changes in the original travel ban could not “fix”: that a full review of the ban would likely show it was a thinly veiled effort to impose the kind of “Muslim ban” that Donald Trump and key advisers advocated during the presidential campaign. A “Muslim ban,” Hawaii argued (and Watson agreed), would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its protection against religious discrimination.
Here’s the key language in the order:
Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude, as does the Court for purposes of the instant Motion for TRO, that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, “secondary to a religious objective” of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.
That consideration “trumps,” if you will, the national-security rationales the government has offered for the ban. It also makes all the revisions — aimed at dealing with other judicial objections to its earlier version — largely irrelevant.
Two other federal judges, one in Maryland and the other in Washington State (the very Judge James Robart who put the original order on hold), held hearings on efforts to stop the travel ban today — but no matter how they rule, Watson’s order puts a hold on everything. And in its wake, the Trump administration is going to have to come to grips with claims that the president’s anti-Muslim talk during the campaign wasn’t mere innocent demagoguery: It has now fatally poisoned his efforts to restrict refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries.
What comes around, goes around.