In a major blow to the ACLU, a federal judge in Boston refused to extend an order which temporarily put a stop to a portion of Trump’s controversial “extreme vetting” immigration order. Judge Nathaniel Gorton, a President George H.W. Bush appointee, decided not to renew the temporary restraining order which was set to expire on Sunday. This ruling is significant because it is the first time that the Trump administration has scored a victory after a series of orders nationwide slamming the ban.
The ACLU argued that the Executive Order violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution because it favors Christians over Muslims. However, the judge found that nothing in the order “compels a finding that Christians are preferred to any other group.”
In addition, he found the plaintiffs lacked standing. “Plaintiffs are not, however, refugees seeking admission to the United States and consequently, any future implementation of Section 5 (b) would not personally affect them,” the judge wrote.
Judge Gorton found that while the Fifth Amendment protects “invidious discrimination by the Federal government” against aliens, there is a difference between the constitutional rights enjoyed by non-citizens who have entered the U.S. and those outside of it.
“The decision to prevent aliens from entering the country is a ‘fundamental sovereign attribute’ realized through the legislative and executive branches that is largely immune from judicial control,” the judge wrote (citations omitted). In other words, the President has the right to make immigration decisions, without interference from the courts.
The court’s previous temporary order, which has now been lifted, stopped the deportation not only of two college professors, but also ordered the government to stop blocking deportation of others “similarly situated.” The case is being handled by attorneys from the ACLU and was originally brought on behalf of Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam, Iranian nationals and associate professors at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. They are both lawful permanent residents of the United States. The case was amended to include five other Iranian nationals and Oxfam America. The judge found that in light of the Trump administration’s statement that the order was not intended to apply to lawful permanent residents, the claims for injunctive relief by the professors are now moot.
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Susan Seager contributed to this report.