Appeals court set to hear travel ban case

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Trump's detractors say it is beyond doubt that Muslims were the ban's intended target, but the administration says it is motivated strictly by national security concerns, an area where USA presidents have wide powers.

Minutes after a reporter asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer why President Donald Trump's campaign website still broadcast his call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", that page went blank, according to reports on Monday afternoon.

"He's never repudiated what he said about the Muslim ban", Judge Robert King, referring to Trump's campaign promise.

"We've been very consistent since the first day of this administration", Spicer said. That's after U.S. District Judge Chuang cited those statements in March to block the order, saying it showed Trump's intent with his executive order was to target Muslims.

The second revision of the Trump travel ban excluded Iraq from the list of banned countries and also lifted the indefinite ban against Syrian refugees entering the United States.

The revised ban, signed by Trump on March 6, was a response to the botched rollout of the initial executive order in January that sparked protests around the world and lawsuits.

Jadwat said none of that mattered given the history of Trump's views in this case.

The premise of Jadwat's argument led Judge Paul Niemeyer, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, to propose a hypothetical scenario to the ACLU lawyer.

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The court typically takes weeks after holding arguments to issue a written decision.

"Is there anything other than willful blindness that would prevent us from getting behind those statements?" asked Judge Henry Floyd, who was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama. The original order was blocked by the 9th Circuit on February 9, dealing the Trump White House a major legal defeat in its third week on the job.

Lawyers are arguing the case before judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. When Judge Derrick Watson ruled that the president's revised executive order was still unconstitutional, he pointed specifically at comments made by one of his senior advisers, Stephen Miller, who boasted (also on Fox News) that "fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country". He denied that the order discriminates on the basis of religion. Wall countered that the court should not look beyond the text of the executive order, which makes no mention of a Muslim ban.

"This is not a Muslim ban", Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, arguing for the government, told the judges during the hearing that lasted two hours, twice as long as scheduled.

Several judges took it differently.

In an extremely rare occurrence for the Fourth Circuit - which covers Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia - a panel of all 13 active and eligible judges heard the lawyers' arguments. To have a valid case, the judges said someone in the United States has to show he or she is facing harm because a relative overseas has been denied a visa as a result of the order. It was also barred by a federal judge in Hawaii.

Wall said that in the past 90 days, "weve done nothing to review the vetting procedures for these nations” due to various court rulings blocking the executive order".

Idaho state Judge David Nye to the U.S. District Court for Idaho. He warned the judges against "reaching back to campaign statements", and said that Trump statements on the campaign trail shouldn't count, because he hadn't yet taken an oath to uphold the Constitution yet.

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