Trump just lost a big court case because he’s a terrible liar
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS
There is a very silly dance underway between the Trump administration and the federal judiciary.
Not long after taking office, President Donald Trump issued his long-bragged-about Muslim Ban, which prohibited nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling into the United States. Almost immediately, the ban ran into trouble in the federal courts.
The ban has now made several trips through the federal judiciary, including a number of visits to the Supreme Court — with the justices temporarily halting at least some parts of the ban, and then dissolving most of that order for jurisdictional reasons. Meanwhile, the Trump administration made two rounds of tweaks to the ban, at times explicitly admitting that these tweaks are intended solely to increase the likelihood that the ban will survive in court.
After the first round of tweaks, for example, Trump described the second version of the Muslim Ban as a “watered down version of the first one” that was crafted “by lawyers in response to prior legal challenges.” He also said that his preference was that “we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”
Now, the third version of the ban is starting to make its way through the courts — and the early news is not good for Trump. On Tuesday, a federal district court in Hawaii temporarily halted this latest version of the ban. Then, on Wednesday morning, a federal court in Maryland ordered a halt to much of the ban as well.
The decisions rely on different legal arguments. But the thrust of both — and especially Judge Theodore Chuang’s decision in the Maryland case, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) v. Trump — is that the courts are not fooled by Trump’s effort to play around with the ban at the margins and claim that it does not suffer from the same legal flaws as previous versions.
Judge Chuang, moreover, relies on a constitutional argument that is far more likely to survive additional scrutiny than a weaker statutory argumentthat makes up the backbone of the Hawaii case.
Though there is always uncertainty about whether an increasingly partisan Supreme Court will apply established legal doctrines to one of the signature policy proposals of a Republican president, Chuang’s opinion provides a convincing case that Muslim Ban 3.0 is no less unconstitutional than prior versions. And Judge Chuang is able to make this case largely because of Trump’s own statements undermining his administration’s work. While administration officials try to sweep Trump’s anti-Muslim bias under the rug where no judge will see it, Trump himself keeps exposing it for everyone to see.