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A federal judge ruled Monday in favor of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s motion for the country’s first preliminary injunction against President Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Judge Leonie Brinkema found that Trump’s executive order discriminates against Muslims, thus violating the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The Commonwealth has produced unrebutted evidence supporting its position that it is likely to succeed on an Establishment Clause claim,” Brinkema wrote. “The ‘Muslim ban’ was a centerpiece 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.”
Herring said the injunction is meant to protect Virginians, whether they are in the Commonwealth or not. The court’s injunction would last until the case goes to trial, if the defense chooses to take that route, he added.
“For the President of the United States to be favoring, taking action favoring people of one faith … it strikes at the very heart of our most-cherished freedoms,” Herring said.
Virginia’s universities were particularly affected by Trump’s executive order, Herring said. Students needed to limit their travel and faculty were unable to travel abroad to present scholarly works and research.
“Imagine what it may feel like to be a member of a minority community when the government, particularly at the highest level, the President of the United States, issues an executive order that is singling out and discriminating against one community,” he said. “That sends the message that those people in that community have lesser rights or are lesser in some way.”
Brinkema’s ruling is the latest legal setback for Trump’s travel ban. Last Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals continued a stay on the executive order that banned travel from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.