President Trump signed an executive order Monday ordering new travel restrictions for residents of six Muslim-majority countries as well as a temporary ban on refugees from around the world. This directive comes after Trump's original executive order was rebuked in the federal courts.
The new ban, which takes effect March 16, halts travel for 90 days for residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The refugee suspension will last 120 days.
For several consecutive minutes during Washington Solicitor Gen. Noah Purcell's arguments at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, judges repeatedly prodded Purcell on whether President Trump's travel ban amounted to anti-Muslim discrimination.
"The seven countries encompass only a relatively small percentage of Muslims," Judge Richard Clifton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said at one point.
"I have trouble understanding where we're supposed to infer religious animus," said Clifton.
During the arguments, Clifton asked Purcell how the ban could be seen as anti-Muslim if it affected only a subset of Muslims.
"To prove religious discrimination we do not need to prove this order harms only Muslims … or every Muslim," said Purcell, pointing to the president's past public statements on a "Muslim ban" and preference for Christian refugees.
Clifton asked if the travel ban was the specific "shutdown" of all Muslim immigration that Trump had promised during his campaign.
"No," said Purcell.
Updated at 5:05 p.m .: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed a comment about religious animus to Judge William Canby. It was Judge Richard Clifton who made the remark.