A federal judge suspended President Donald Trump’s travel ban in Virginia on Monday, specifically putting it on hold in the commonwealth until higher courts decide its fate.
Her ruling followed the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court’s ruling from Thursday that had already prevented the order from being enforced nationally.
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, however, went further than other courts had previously in arguing that the executive order temporarily barring all refugees as well as people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US violated the First Amendment’s protection to freedom of religion.
“Just as the Supreme Court has held that ‘the world is not made brand new every morning,’ a person is not made brand new simply by taking the oath of office,” Brinkema wrote in her ruling.
“The ‘Muslim ban’ was a centerpiece of the president’s campaign for months, and the press release calling for it was still available on his website as of the day this Memorandum Opinion is being entered.”
Brinkema was referring to a statement on Trump’s campaign website published December 7, 2015, “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
The Trump administration has said it will appeal the federal appeals court ruling and possibly issue a new order.
Brinkema said the Trump administration didn’t produce a “scintilla of evidence” to justify the ban.
“Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she wrote. “Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set by Congress’ delegation of power and the constraints of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.”
Brinkema referred to interviews the president gave before he was a candidate and after he won the election, saying Christians from majority-Muslim countries would be given priority entry into the US and declaring that there was “a Muslim problem” in the US.
She also cited statements made by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York on Fox News in January. Giuliani, who advised the Trump campaign, said Trump called him and asked how to carry out a “Muslim ban” “legally.”
“Defendants have not denied any of these statements or produced any evidence, beyond the text of the EO itself, to support their contention that the EO was primarily motivated by national security concerns,” Brinkema wrote in her opinion.
Brinkema also ruled that the order was “disruptive to the operation of [Virginia’s] public colleges and universities,” resulting in reduced revenue, causing “anxiety, confusion, and distress” among university personnel, and “inflaming ‘anti-American sentiment'” abroad.