The attorneys general of 16 states and the District of Columbia on Wednesday filed a brief asking the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling that blocked a major part of President Donald Trump's so-called "travel ban."
The attorneys general argue Trump's revised executive order would negatively impact universities and medical institutions, has a depressing effect on tourism — causing lost tax revenue — and amounts to an anti-Muslim order.
"The unrebutted evidence below shows that EO-1 [Executive Order 1] and EO-2 seek to fulfill the President's promise to ban Muslims from entering the country," the attorneys general said in the brief.
Trump's revised March 6 executive order would restrict for 90 days the issuance of visas to nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries, and also suspend for 120 days the entry to the United States by refugees.
A federal judge in Maryland on March 15 blocked enforcement of the 90-day suspension, saying those who challenged it were likely to succeed on the merits.
District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in an opinion questioned the government's state national security rationale, and cited Trump's past statements in finding "it is more likely that the primary purpose of the travel ban was grounded in religion," and is likely to violate the constitution.
Critics have called the executive order a "Muslim ban," something Trump has denied. Trump has said the ban is necessary to protect Americans from terrorism.
The administration was forced to issue a second, revamped order after the first attempt was blocked by a federal judge in Seattle, and after an appeals court refused to reinstate it.
Attorneys general from Virginia, Maryland, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C. signed Wednesday's brief.
The full U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the Trump travel rules on May 8, according to the appeals court calendar.
Trump's revised executive order has also been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in that case in May.