Washington’s lawyer ran into trouble with Judge Clifton after arguing that the order violated the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.
Clifton said the ban covered only seven countries, which accounted for a small minority of all Muslims. He pointed out again that the Obama administration and Congress had previously designated the seven countries covered by Trump’s ban as a worrisome source of terrorism and subject to visa restrictions.
The judges pressed the state’s attorney to explain, given that, why Trump’s order amounts to a Muslim ban.
“Do you assert that that decision by the previous administration and congress as religiously motivated?” asked Clifton.
Purcell said no. But he said that “the president called for a complete ban on Muslims.”
“Is this that ban?” Clifton asked.
“No, we’re not saying this is a complete ban on Muslims entering the country,” Purcell said.
Purcell said it was discriminatory and that the state’s allegations at this point of the legal procedures must be given weight.
“We’re supposed to take your word for it?” Clifton asked incredulously.
Friedland threw Purcell a lifeline, noting that he had submitted exhibits to back up some of his allegations.