Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from certain predominantly Muslim countries set off a political chain reaction that will rumble through Washington for weeks, if not months. Three days after it was signed, the order resulted in the firing of acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to defend it. This, in turn, prompted Senate Democrats to boycott or delay confirmation hearings scheduled for several of Trump’s cabinet nominees, including his pick for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. The controversy over the order is also likely to spill into the battle over Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
The legality of Trump’s action will first be tested in U.S. district courts, where challenges are mounting by the day. At issue is whether the order discriminates against Muslims based on their religion, or if it’s simply a form of “extreme vetting” of refugees, as Trump claims. The federal court cases raise questions about bedrock constitutional provisions such as “due process” and “equal protection,” as well as a part of the First Amendment known as the establishment clause, which prohibits laws favoring one religion over another.
The American Civil Liberties Union, in challenging the order, described it as a “Muslim ban wrapped in paper-thin national security rationale.” Dan Siciliano, a law professor at Stanford, says it was “clearly a nationality ban and a de facto religion ban.”Read More