Lawyers are using Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric against him to fight his immigration ban

Attorneys-general of Washington and Minnesota are questioning the motive behind his controversial executive order

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 08 February 2017 08:43
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Lawyers are using Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric against him

Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric was used against him by state lawyers during an appeals court hearing into the President's controversial hardline immigration ban.

The attorneys-general of Washington and Minnesota have claimed Mr Trump acted in "bad faith in an effort to target Muslims" in signing his executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

During an hour of oral arguments, they pulled quotes from his December 2015 call for a "total and complete shutdown" on Muslims entering the US as well as an interview he gave to a Christian network when he said he wanted to give priority to Christians in Syria.

The states' lawyers said in a filing with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals that judges "have both the right and duty to examine" the President's motives.

It comes after former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani revealed that Mr Trump had asked him to investigate "the right way" to legally construct a "Muslim ban". In an interview with Fox News, Mr Giuliani, currently the White House cyber security advisor, added: "We focused on—instead of religion—danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal. Perfectly sensible."

The administration's legal team said Washington and Minnesota were asking the court to "take the extraordinary step of second-guessing a formal national security judgement made by the President himself".

Mr Trump has criticised what he has labelled the "so-called" judge who ruled the ban unlawful. He said the decision "takes law enforcement away from our country" and would allow "many very bad and dangerous people" into the US.

The President’s order banned travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. However, Syrian refugees would be barred indefinitely.

Three appellate judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco considered the fate of the ban on Tuesday, four days after it was blocked by a federal judge in Seattle.

The three judges presiding over the case are William C Canby Jr, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter; Judge Richard Clifton, who was appointed by President George W Bush; and Judge Michelle Taryn Friedland who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

In one exchange, Judge Friedland asked Justice Department lawyer August Flentje if the government could provided any evidence connecting the seven banned countries to terrorism. He responded by saying, "these proceedings have been moving very fast."

Before the hearing, President Trump said he hoped the case would go on to the Supreme Court while arguing that the order is important for the country. Halfway through the arguments, more than 120,000 viewers listened in via the court’s official YouTube page.

Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell argued on behalf of Washington state that the motion would throw the country into chaos. "The executive order itself caused irreparable harm to our state and its people," he argued. "We had longtime residents who couldn't travel without knowing if they can return."

The states of Washington and Minnesota brought the case against the Trump administration, which will likely reach the US Supreme Court.

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