Trump Travel Ban Court Challenges Survive U.S. Dismissal Bid

(Bloomberg) -- Three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Donald Trump’s travel ban can move forward because the president’s order may have been motivated by an illegitimate hostility to Muslims, a Maryland federal court judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang’s Thursday ruling dealt with the merits of the lawsuits filed after Trump’s third try to implement what opponents of the measure called a "Muslim ban." His first attempt, unveiled days after he took office in January 2017, and its immediate successor were blocked by judges.

Chuang threw out claims the president’s action violated federal rule-making procedures, but wrote in his 46-page decision that the plaintiffs showed enough evidence that Trump’s proclamation “is not rationally related” to legitimate national security concerns to allow the lawsuits to proceed.

U.S. appeals courts in San Francisco and in Richmond, Virginia, each upheld trial court orders -- including one by Chuang -- blocking the last version of the travel ban, but the U.S. Supreme Court last June overturned the San Francisco ruling by a 5-4 vote. That effectively wiped out the Richmond ruling and allowed Trump’s policy to take effect while the underlying lawsuits continued.

The cases were brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project, HIAS -- a refugee resettlement group -- Iranian Alliances Across Borders and a handful of individuals. Trump’s final order restricted travel to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Five of those seven countries are majority Muslim.

The lead case is International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 17-cv-361, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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