Appeals Courts Uphold Stay of Travel Ban (June 15, 2017)

As reported previously, implementation of the Executive Order (EO) banning travel to the United States by citizens of six countries was halted by a federal trial court in Hawaii on March 15. The White House appealed the trial court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bucknell joined 30 other universities in the filing of an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs’ opposition to the EO. On June 12, the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling upholding the trial court’s injunction, finding that the President exceeded his authority as delegated by Congress in failing to make a sufficient finding that entry of the designated classes of individuals would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that the EO is contrary to prohibitions against nationality-based discrimination.

Parallel litigation challenging the EO has been underway in the Fourth Circuit. On March 16, a federal district court in Maryland issued an order blocking implementation of the travel ban. The White House appealed the trial court’s preliminary injunction to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bucknell again joined in an amicus brief, as reported in an earlier update. The Fourth Circuit issued a ruling on May 25 upholding the lower court order restricting implementation of the travel ban and stating that the EO “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”  The court added that “a reasonable observer would likely conclude that [the executive order’s] primary purpose is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs…”

On June 1, the White House filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which is essentially a request for review of the Fourth Circuit’s decision, with the United States Supreme Court. We will issue further updates when the Court rules on these petitions. If the Supreme Court agrees to review the matter, we anticipate that Bucknell and the other universities will again file an amicus brief articulating concerns regarding the travel ban. In the meantime, the travel ban remains on hold.

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