On March 24, Judge Anthony Trenga ‘71 of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of President Trump’s executive order that restricts travel from six Muslim-majority countries, making him the first federal judge to do so.
Trenga’s ruling, which stands in contrast to federal court rulings against the ban in Hawaii and Maryland, increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will take up the case.
The case, Sarsour v. Trump, was filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization. The case brought in a number of witnesses who testified that they were harmed by the travel ban, which prevented many from seeing their families.
Among the plaintiffs was Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American political activist and former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.
The plaintiffs argued that the executive order violated the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, and they sought a ruling that the ban was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Trenga rejected these arguments, finding that Trump's revised order, Executive Order 13780, which replaced the more sweeping Executive Order 13769 signed in January, was within the administration’s power to make decisions concerning immigration and national security.
Furthermore, Trenga found that there was no mention of religion in the text of the order, leading him to reject the notion of a discriminatory “Muslim ban.”
CAIR plans to appeal the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to “ultimately decide whether the Constitution protects the rights of Muslim Americans,” according to Lena Masri, the group’s national litigation director.
Trenga was nominated by President George W. Bush on July 17, 2008 and has served as federal judge since then.