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Presidents prior statements about Muslims sparked debate as appeals court heard arguments on whether to uphold the block of his second executive order
Donald Trumps campaign promise of a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States once again came back to haunt him on Monday.
In Seattle, the presidents prior statements were under scrutiny as three judges from the ninth circuit court of appeals heard oral debates over whether to continue blocking the presidents second executive order barring travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The government is seeking to overrule a temporary restraining order issued in March by Judge Derrick Watson of the federal district tribunal in Honolulu, Hawaii, against the executive heads order.
Trumps tendency to speak off the cuff about his motives in issuing the executive heads order has been a constant presence in hearings, and Monday was no different as the judges considered whether the administration was simply use concerns about national security as a pretext for discriminating against Muslims.
Judge Michael Daly Hawkins asked: Has the president ever disavowed his campaign statements?
The executive order sets out national security justifications, Judge Ronald Gould asked earlier, but how is the court to know if in fact its a Muslim ban in the guise of their own nationals security justification?
This is the second time that the ninth circuit, which covers the western US and is generally considered the most liberal of the appeals court, has heard arguments over the travel prohibition. In February, three different magistrates on the ninth circuit upheld a temporary restraining order against the first iteration of the travel ban.
The case now awaits a written ruling from the judges, which could be appealed again to the supreme court.
Acting solicitor general Jeffrey Wall, who is representing the government against the legal challenge brought by the state of Hawaii, argued that the court should not consider statements made by Trump when he was a candidate, and should not interpret his post-inauguration statements in a light that was most hostile and least favorable to the president. Wall also was contended that over period, the president clarified that what he was talking about was Islamic terrorist groups, rather than all Muslims.
But Neal Katyal, a former Obama administration solicitor general representative of country of Hawaii in this case, said that Wall could not cite any actual disavowal of the campaign promise and pointed to statements Trump has induced since his inauguration that he said supported the idea that the executive order is targeted at Muslims.
Read more: <a href="www.theguardian.com