Wall Street Journal
By Brent Kendall
March 17, 2017
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department formally appealed a Maryland judge’s decision this week that blocked the implementation of President Donald Trump’s revised executive order barring U.S. entry for people from six Muslim-majority countries.
The appeal on Friday kicks off a new phase in litigation over whether Mr. Trump’s latest travel restrictions improperly target people based on their religion. The president says the restrictions are necessary to protect the country from terrorism.
Judges in Hawaii and Maryland, in rulings issued only hours apart this week, said Mr. Trump appeared to have been motivated by improper religious animus.
Among other things, the judges cited past statements in which Mr. Trump as a presidential candidate voiced support for a “Muslim ban.”
The rulings weren’t final decisions on the legality of Mr. Trump’s revised executive order, signed on March 6. Instead, courts so far have been considering whether the travel restrictions should be placed on hold while the litigation continues.
Several courts blocked the president’s first travel ban, signed Jan. 27. Rather than continue to fight those cases, the president rewrote the executive order, making several concessions along the way.
This week’s court decisions found those concessions were insufficient because the problem of religious discrimination remained.
The government’s appeal came in a short written notice filed in court. The case will now go to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., which didn’t immediately embrace a quick timeline for reviewing the matter. The court asked the government to file its opening legal brief by April 26, and said it would then give the challengers a month to respond.
The Maryland case involves a challenge by refugee organizations and others, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request to comment.
The government hasn’t yet filed appeals papers in the Hawaii case, though it is expected to do so at some point.
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