A federal judge in Virginia shot down President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban on Monday.
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema ruled that the executive order temporarily barring people from seven majority-Muslim countries likely violates the First Amendment’s protection to freedom of religion.
“Just as the Supreme Court has held that ‘the world is not made brand new every morning,’ a person is not made brand new simply by taking the oath of office,” Brinkema wrote in her ruling.
“The ‘Muslim ban’ was a centrepiece of the president’s campaign for months, and the press release calling for it was still available on his website as of the day this Memorandum Opinion is being entered.”
Brinkema was referring to a statement on Trump’s campaign website from December 7, 2015 “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Brinkema’s ruling, which only applies to the commonwealth of Virginia, follows the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court’s ruling on Thursday against reinstating the order. The Trump administration has said it will appeal the federal ruling and possibly issue a new order.
Brinkema said that the Trump administration didn’t produce a “scintilla of evidence” to justify the ban.
“Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she wrote. “Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set by Congress’ delegation of power and the constraints of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.”
Brinkema referenced interviews the president gave before he was a candidate and after he won the election, saying Christians from Muslim countries were going to be given priority entry into the US, and declaring that “there is a Muslim problem” in the United States.
Brinkema also cited statements made by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Fox News in January. Giuliani, who advised the Trump campaign, said Trump called him and asked how to carry out a “Muslim ban” “legally.”
“Defendants have not denied any of these statements or produced any evidence, beyond the text of the EO itself, to support their contention that the EO was primarily motivated by national security concerns,” Brinkema wrote in her opinion.
Brinkema also ruled that the order was “disruptive to the operation of [Virginia’s] public colleges and universities,” resulting in reduced revenue, causing “‘anxiety, confusion, and distress'” among university personnel, and “inflaming ‘anti-American sentiment'” abroad.