Fourth Circuit upholds halt to Trump Executive Order

25 May 17


The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled Thursday not to reinstate President Donald Trump’s revised Executive Order to ban nationals of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. In a 10-3 decision, the court upheld a district court’s ruling to halt the implementation of the ban, saying that when taken in context the Executive Order “drips with religious intolerance” for Muslims.

“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens,” the court said, “but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”

The March 6 order would have prevented nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from traveling to the U.S. for a 90-day period except in cases where an exemption or waiver applied. It was signed after a broader Executive Order, issued in late January, also stalled in federal court. The revised version included exemptions for green card holders, visa holders and dual nationals. It also did not cover Iraqi nationals, who were included in the initial Executive Order.

The Trump administration had hoped the new order would survive judicial review, but federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii ruled in March to stop the revised order from taking effect. The administration appealed both rulings. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is currently considering the appeal of the Hawaii judge’s ruling, but has yet to issue a decision.

BAL Analysis: For the time being, foreign nationals covered by the Executive Order can continue traveling to and from the U.S. as they could before the order was signed. The rulings so far have not reached the merits of the case, however, and an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible. Employers with personnel inside the U.S. who would be subject to the order should continue to advise their employees to exercise caution when planning travel because the litigation is ongoing. BAL is carefully monitoring the litigation and will continue to provide updates on important developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact
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