It’s a Muslim ban, and it’s unconstitutional

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Page Pate is a criminal defense and constitutional lawyer based in Atlanta. He is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Georgia, a founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project, a former board member of the Federal Defender Program in Atlanta, and the former chairman of the criminal law section of the Atlanta Bar Association. Follow him on Twitter @pagepate. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Before he was elected President, Donald Trump made it clear he wanted to keep Muslims from entering the United States. In fact, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” a stance he slightly modified during the campaign.

Now that he is President, it looks like Trump is trying to accomplish the initial shutdown he called for on the campaign trail.

On January 27, Trump signed an executive order that significantly restricts the rights of people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. This order is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against Muslims. Because the policy reflected in this order targets a particular religious group, even though it doesn’t cover every country in which Muslims predominate, it is unconstitutional.

Page Pate

It has been called a “travel ban,” but the official title of the executive order signed by Trump is “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
That sounds like a good thing, right? Keeping America safe is one of the most important priorities of our government. But the actual policy and practice behind this order is inconsistent with its stated purpose.
Several states, and many private individuals, have challenged the order on various grounds. Their arguments are different, but almost all of them involve the same core issues: Is this executive order an attempt to discriminate against Muslims? And, if it is, can this possibly be legal?
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