WashPost OPINION: David Cole Lays Out The Case For Rejecting “Travel Ban 2.0” — Why Judges Should Look Behind The Language OF The EO To Determine “Intent”


Cole writes:

“So does the immigration or the establishment-clause test govern? The answer should depend on the nature of the government’s action. Deference is proper when the political branches draw customary and “bona fide” immigration lines, especially when there is no suggestion of an improper purpose. It makes sense to defer to immigration decisions based on family ties or adherence to visa conditions, because it is next to impossible to regulate immigration without drawing such lines. But the Trump administration has advanced no reason immigration law should be a tool for denigrating religion.

Establishing religion has never been a proper goal of immigration law — or any law. Targeting Islam violates the rights of Americans, whatever form it takes; there is no justification for giving the government a pass because it is regulating the border. When Trump signed the first travel ban, he said, “We all know what that means.” We do, indeed. And judges, no less than the rest of us, must not blind themselves to what “we all know.”


Curmudgeonly Observation Of The Day

As noted in his op-ed, Professor Cole wears “many hats,” one of which is as the attorney for the plaintiffs in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, currently pending on appeal by the Government in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

I’m not saying that there is anything unethical or improper about Cole writing this article. Attorneys seem to do it all the time, although more often from the private than from the Governmental side. As long as the judge hasn’t entered a “gag order,”(very rare in civil litigation like this) it’s perfectly legit.

It’s probably just me being an “old guy” and having spent two decades toiling away on appellate and trial benches at the administrative level (certainly not the exalted level of the U.S. District Court or the Fourth Circuit). Nevertheless, as I indicated in my recent blogs about extra-judicial statements by Trump and his advisors, I continue to think it is a “bad practice” for parties and attorneys with pending cases to take the argument “out of court and into the media.”

In my judicial career I presided over a number of so-called “high profile” cases. As a judge, I never appreciated seeing articles or statements in the press by the attorneys of record or parties while the matter was pending before me (or “us” in the case of the BIA).

To me, it always seemed to indicate a curious desire by the party to have the case tried in a forum “other than the one I was presiding over.” That didn’t necessarily warm my heart or increase my respect for the party.

Of course, as I judge I had to “get over it” (in the words of my esteemed former colleague, now retired, Judge Wayne R. Iskra) along with lots of other annoying “peripheral stuff” to treat the parties fairly and make a just decision on the law and facts. But, I always wondered: “Why even put that seemingly unnecessary ‘hurdle’ in front of me.”

Sure, nothing takes the place of “real life” reflections from those involved in big cases. That’s what “after the fact” articles,  press conferences, law review pieces, books, and even movies are for. But, I think that it is most prudent for those actively involved in pending litigation to let their statements and filings in court speak for them. Surely, there are others in academia and the NGO community who could have written the same article that Cole did based on what is already in the public record.