0333 GMT January 18, 2018
US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland, in a ruling issued overnight, said the policy as applied to six majority-Muslim countries likely violates the US Constitution’s prohibition on religious discrimination. He also ruled that the ban ran afoul of immigration law, Reuters reported.
Trump’s ban would have taken effect on Wednesday but was blocked on Tuesday by a US federal judge in Hawaii in a separate challenge.
Together, the pair of rulings set up a high-stakes battle over the president’s executive authority that is expected to ultimately wind up before the US Supreme Court.
Trump’s latest order targeted people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as certain government officials from Venezuela. Neither of the court rulings lifts the restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.
In the Maryland ruling, Chuang questioned the government’s argument that the restrictions are needed until the affected countries provide more information on travelers to the United States.
He cited various statements made by Trump, including his 2015 call for a “total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States.”
Chuang wrote that the president’s public statements “not only fail to advance, but instead undermine, the position that the primary purpose of the travel ban now derives from the need to address information sharing deficiencies.”
The latest ban, announced last month, was the third version of a policy that targeted Muslim-majority countries but had been restricted by the courts. The Maryland case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents several advocacy groups, including the International Refugee Assistance Project.
Unlike the Hawaii ruling, the Maryland decision would lift the restrictions only for people with family connections to the United States.