Divided Fourth Circuit Rules Against National Security Proclamation


Edward White

February 21, 2018

2 min read

National Security



In a divided decision with a number of dissenting judges, a majority of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (thirteen active judges) affirmed a Maryland federal court’s injunction against the full implementation of President Trump’s National Security Proclamation.

The Fourth Circuit stayed the impact of its decision, however, because the Supreme Court previously halted the injunctions against the Proclamation and allowed the Proclamation to go into effect pending the Supreme Court’s final disposition of the matter.

The Proclamation places travel restrictions on foreign nationals from Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, North Korea, Venezuela, and Yemen. Those countries failed a thorough global review the Trump Administration conducted to determine which countries satisfy our screening standards for nationals seeking entry into the United States. Our nation also has continuing concerns with terrorism in many of those eight countries.

The same Maryland federal court that enjoined the Proclamation previously enjoined the President’s National Security Executive Order. That Executive Order temporarily paused entry into the United States of nationals from six unstable and/or terrorism-infested countries while our government conducted the above-mentioned global review. The Maryland judge determined that the Executive Order likely violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment due to, among other things, campaign comments made by then-candidate Trump and his advisors, which the judge wrongly concluded evidenced a “Muslim ban.” The judge reached the same conclusion with regard to the Proclamation. The divided Fourth Circuit upheld the judge’s ruling.

The legality of the Proclamation, in particular with regard to the Establishment Clause, is now before the Supreme Court, which is reviewing a similar decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit’s decision will likely wind up before the Supreme Court for review as well.

As we have done in the multiple lawsuits filed against the National Security Executive Order and the Proclamation, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) will be filing an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Supreme Court urging the Court to overturn the injunctions against the Proclamation and allow the Proclamation to continue in full effect. That brief will be filed with the support of the ACLJ’s Committee to Defend Our National Security from Terror, which represents more than 280,000 Americans who have stood in support of the President’s efforts to protect this nation from the entry of foreign terrorists.

You can find further analysis about the National Security Proclamation and Executive Order here.