US President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban has suffered another federal court setback after a judge in Maryland rejected a revised measure that bans travel targeting six predominantly Muslim countries.
Judge Theodore Chuang ruled in a case brought near the nation’s capital by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups representing immigrants, refugees and their families. The groups argued that the underlying rationale of the ban was to discriminate against Muslims, making it unconstitutional.
Judge Chuang granted a preliminary injunction on a nationwide basis.
It was the latest ruling against Mr Trump’s revised travel ban.
On Wednesday, a judge in Hawaii rejected the ban. Government lawyers argued that the ban was substantially revised from an earlier version signed in January that was later blocked by a federal judge in Washington state.
They said the ban was ordered in the interests of national security to protect the US from “radical Islamic terrorism”. The Maryland plaintiffs also argued the ban illegally reduces the number of refugees authorised to enter the US this year.
Judge Chuang granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the travel ban nationwide pending further orders from the court. He declined to stay the ruling should an emergency appeal be filed.
The White House did not immediately respond to the Maryland ruling. The Wednesday ruling came from US District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, who rejected the government’s claims that the travel ban is about national security, not discrimination.
Judge Watson also said Hawaii would suffer financially if the executive order constricted the flow of students and tourists to the state, and that Hawaii was likely to succeed on a claim that the ban violates First Amendment protections against religious discrimination.
The judge criticised what he called the “illogic” of the government’s arguments and cited “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” behind the travel ban. He also noted that while courts should not examine the “veiled psyche” and “secret motives” of government decision-makers, “the remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry”.
“For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’,” Judge Watson wrote, referring to a statement Mr Trump issued as a candidate.
Mr Trump called the ruling an example of “unprecedented judicial overreach” and said his administration would appeal against it to the US Supreme Court.
He also called his new travel ban a watered-down version of the first one, which he said he wished he could implement. “We’re going to win. We’re going to keep our citizens safe,” the president said at a rally in Nashville.