ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today another legal setback for President Trump's travel ban. His controversial executive order would temporarily ban travelers from six mostly Muslim countries. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that it should be kept on hold. The court said it likely violates the Constitution. NPR's Joel Rose joins us now. And Joel, this is a pretty exhaustive ruling. It's 205 pages. Will you break it down for us?
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Sure, Ari. This is the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia. They ruled by a vote of 10 to 3 to keep the preliminary injunction in place. That was issued by a lower court in Maryland. And the majority of the circuit court judges agreed that the travel ban has constitutional problems or appears to have constitutional problems because it discriminates on the basis of religion.
And I want to quote a brief quote from Chief Judge Roger Gregory. He did not mince words. He said the president has broad authority to deny entry to the United States, but that authority is not absolute and that his order, quote, "speaks with vague words of national security but in context drips with religious intolerance," unquote.
SHAPIRO: That is a strongly worded opinion. What does it mean for the administration's case?
ROSE: Well, nothing good. The administration argued that it needed to halt travel from these countries in order to put better security protocols in place, these six countries the administration says are linked to terrorism. And the administration argued that the judges should look only at the language of the executive order itself, which says nothing at all explicitly about religion. But the majority of the circuit court judges here just didn't seem to agree with that. They found that the government's argument that this is only about national security to be - in is in bad faith and that the majority found that the real reason for the executive order was religious animus toward Muslims.
SHAPIRO: As you said, three judges were in the majority. Sorry. Ten judges were in the majority. Three dissented. What did the dissenters say?
ROSE: Well, the dissenters think that the majority is overreaching here. They agree with the administration that the court should give the White House deference, especially on matters of national security. And the dissenters say that this really sets a bad precedent to look at the statements of candidates on the stump.
The majority cited page after page worth of past statements by President Trump and candidate Trump talking about blocking Muslims from entering the country. And one of the dissenting judges asks, well, how far back should the courts go when deciding whether an order is constitutional? Do you go back to someone's business career or all the way back to what they might have written in college?
SHAPIRO: There has been a lot of court action surrounding this executive order, and this is probably the most significant ruling yet, 13 judges on an appeals court. Where does it go from here?
ROSE: Well, there's a parallel case playing out in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the West Coast. That is a case out of Hawaii where a judge also blocked key parts of the president's executive order. In fact, that ruling went even further and blocked another part of the executive order that suspends the U.S. refugee program. The 9th Circuit Court heard arguments last week. We're still waiting for a ruling there. But really regardless of what happens, these cases are likely heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
SHAPIRO: And we will continue to cover them as they do so. NPR's Joel Rose, thanks a lot.
ROSE: You're welcome.
(SOUNDBITE OF DELIA GONZALEZ'S "ROULETTE")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.