President Donald Trump got good news this week when a federal judge upheld his executive order on immigration and travel in a ruling that could prompt a Supreme Court battle. Judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said that Trump was legally allowed to ban travel from those countries specified in the order. Trenga concluded that any president “has unqualified authority to bar physical entry to the United States at the border.”
Trenga also noted that the order does not mention religion and therefore has a “state secular purpose for protecting U.S. citizens from attacks. Thinking more logically than the judges who halted the ban, Trenga drew a barrier between Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and his official actions as president.
“This court is no longer faced with a facially discriminatory order coupled with contemporaneous statements suggesting discriminatory intent,” Trenga wrote. “And while the President and his advisers have continued to make statements following the issuance of EO-1 (the first executive order) that have characterized or anticipated the nature of EO-2 (the revised ban), the court cannot conclude for the purposes of the motion that these statements, together with the President’s past statements, have effectively disqualified him from exercising his lawful presidential authority.”
“The substantive revisions reflected in EO-2 have reduced the probative value of the President’s statements to the point that it is no longer likely that plaintiffs can succeed on their claim that the predominate purpose of EO-2 is to discriminate against Muslims based on their religion and that EO-2 is a pretext or a sham for that purpose,” he added.
Trump’s Justice Department has already thanked Trenga for coming to this conclusion.
“As the court correctly explains, the president’s executive order falls well within his authority to safeguard the nation’s security,” department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said of the order.