During oral arguments over Donald Trump’s immigration ban that targets Muslims and refugees, a three-judge panel seemed ready to deal the latest legal blow to the president’s controversial and unpopular executive order.
One key moment during the arguments came when lawyers for Washington and Minnesota – two states that are challenging the ban – claimed that Trump’s executive order clearly violates the Constitution by targeting immigrants based on their religious beliefs.
When asked for evidence to back up that assertion, Washington state solicitor general Noah Purcell simply referred the judges to Trump and his advisors’ “rather shocking” rhetoric during and after the campaign.
“The public statements from the president and his top advisors” prove that the goal of Trump’s order was to limit or ban Muslims from the United States, Purcell argued.
Not to mention, as the LA Times noted on Tuesday, “The day [Trump] signed the order, he gave an interview to a Christian television network in which he said he wanted to give priority to Christian refugees.”
When one of the judges defended Trump’s ban by saying it only makes up a small portion of the global Muslim population, Purcell was quick to respond.
“We do not need to prove that this order harms only Muslims or that it harms every Muslim,” he said, saying it’s only relevant that religion was a factor in barring people from entering the country, which – in Trump’s own words – it clearly was.
The legal team opposing Trump made sound arguments as to why the president’s ban is unconstitutional, and the panel of three judges – two appointed by Democratic presidents and one appointed by a Republican – appeared to have largely agreed with the concerns laid before them.
One Supreme Court and Appellate Attorney tweeted this shortly after the arguments, suggesting that it’s highly unlikely there are enough votes on the panel to favor the president:
11/ Most important practically, I don’t see 2 votes to say that ban should immediately go back into effect, in whole or in part. #WAvTrump.
— Brian Goldman (@briangoldman) February 8, 2017
While the media advisory released prior to the oral arguments stated that the court’s decision isn’t expected today, it’s clear that opponents of Trump’s travel ban have the advantage.