The speed and enthusiasm with which two federal courts halted President Trump's latest travel executive order might suggest that the revised policy is as obviously problematic as the last, which was a sloppy rush job that the government poorly defended in court. In fact, the revised policy, while still more likely to harm than help national security, is legally far more defensible. Decades of precedent instruct judges to defer to the executive branch on immigration and national security matters such as this. It should surprise no one if the Supreme Court eventually allows the Trump administration to proceed.
Among other problems, Trump's first order essentially broke faith with foreigners who already had commitments from the government, violating their right to due process. In contrast, the revised order would not deny entry to lawful permanent residents or visa holders.
Two federal district court judges nevertheless blocked implementation of the new order this week, finding that it violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which demands separation between church and state. Judge Derrick K. Watson relied on previous rulings that government actions "must have a primary secular purpose" as he rejected the national security rationale the Trump administration offered and concluded that Mr. Trump's transparent aim was "temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims." Watson used the president's previous calls for a Muslim ban, along with a variety of more recent statements from Trump associates, as evidence of Mr. Trump's discriminatory intent.