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Judge suggests Gov. Pence’s Syrian refugee ban rooted in religious bias

9/24/2016, 2:05 p.m.
“Wait, wait,” Judge Frank H. Easterbrook said, taking a tone of dry incredulity. “The governor of Indiana knows more about ...
Gov. Mike Pence, Judge Easterbrook

“Yes,” Mr. Fisher said.

The judges asked what part of the law allows Indiana to partially back out of the refugee grant program. They asked why Indiana could “pick and choose” when it participates.

“So you want Indiana to be safe, and you want these people to go to other states,”

Judge Posner said. “… Well, why should Indiana be safer than, say, Illinois?”

Before Mr. Fisher could answer fully, Judge Posner added: “Do you want all the states to do this? And then there’s no more Syrian refugees?”

Mr. Fisher said two governors have withdrawn entirely from the grant program in question.

“And that’s fine,” Judge Easterbrook said. “That is the state’s right to withdraw from the grant program. But Indiana hasn’t done it. … It’s like the Medicaid Act. You can choose to be in, you can choose to be out, but if you’re in, you play by the government’s rules.”

As Mr. Fisher responded, Judge Easterbrook let out another deep sigh.

“The president of the United States has determined that the United States knows enough to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees,” Judge Easterbrook said. “That’s the president’s decision. It may be right; it may be wrong. I don’t see how a governor can disagree with the president by saying, well, the FBI director may have given him contrary advice.”