Ninth Circuit Ruling on Trump Executive Order a Victory for the Rule of Law

New York City—Human Rights First said that today’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that refused to reinstate President Trump’s executive order is a victory for the rule of law and American ideals. The executive order is a ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, a suspension of the refugee resettlement program for 120 days, and an indefinite bar on refugees who have fled Syria.

“We are very pleased that the court of appeals, after careful and thorough consideration of the government’s appeal, unanimously decided to leave the district court’s stay of the executive order in place,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Religious discrimination cloaked in the language of national security concerns does not merit a pass from the court. In particular, we are relieved that the resettlement of fully-vetted refugees will continue to proceed.  This country has a long tradition of protecting the persecuted, and the United States can both safeguard its security and protect the persecuted.”

Although the Ninth Circuit acknowledged that all the parties will still bring forth additional evidence, the court found that the government is not likely to prevail in its appeal, and acknowledged that it is the travelers and refugees seeking entry to this country—not the government—that risks irreparable injury if the president’s order were enforced.

The court also unanimously rejected the government’s position that the president’s decisions about immigration policy are unreviewable, finding “no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.” Indeed, the court reasserted that “it is the role of the judiciary to interpret the law” even when that duty involves a challenge to “the constitutional authority of one of the three branches.”

“This is a proud day for all Americans who believe our courts should uphold the rule of law and not hesitate to enforce the separation of powers that is so critical to our constitutional form of government,” added Acer.

The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with over 60 million people displaced. Over 4.8 million Syrians have fled their country due to conflict and persecution, and 7.6 million are displaced within Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. Human Rights First’s report “The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Need for U.S. Leadership” details how many of these refugees have been stranded for years in neighboring countries where they cannot work or support their families, have little access to education, and lack the level of humanitarian assistance they need. Frontline states and key U.S. allies including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan continue to host the majority of the nearly 5 million refugees who have fled Syria, struggling under the strain of hosting so many refugees.

Former U.S. military leaders and former U.S. national security officials, who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations, have urged that “Welcoming refugees, regardless of their religion or race, exposes the falseness of terrorist propaganda and counters the warped vision of extremists,” and that “religious bans and tests are un-American and have no place in our immigration and refugee policies.”


Published on February 9, 2017


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