A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to hand over a memo drafted with guidance from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani outlining a proposed new travel ban designed to be more “palatable” to the public as well as legally sound.
The latest draft is designed so that it does not obviously target Muslims, in the way that the first controversial ban – ruled unlawful by several judges – was considered to do.
Mr Giuliani, a lawyer, is currently an informal adviser on matters of security to the White House and played a leading role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
He was reportedly instructed during the campaign to form a commission tasked with drawing up a “Muslim ban” that appeared legally sound, according to papers filed in court by the Arab American Civil Rights League.
The commission recommended that nationality “be used as a proxy for religion” according to the filing in Detroit by the group.
During his campaign, Mr Trump was accused of Islamophobia when he called for "a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on".
Detroit District Judge Victoria Roberts has now ordered that the latest draft be turned over by Friday 19 May, just as the President’s Justice Department lawyers are preparing to defend his latest travel ban in a federal appeals court on Monday 15 May.
Ms Roberts said she could see no reason to delay ordering the sharing of relevant evidence with the Arab-American group, given what she termed the “unmistakable and impermissible message that the United States Government disapproved of Islam and Muslims” in the text and history of the revised ban.
The latest executive order seeks to bar citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. One issue to be examined by the three-judge appeals court in Seattle is whether public comments made by Mr Trump before his inauguration are relevant when evaluating the legality of his executive order, or whether the review should be limited to the contents of the document itself.
A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the original order in March, ruling that it amounted to an unlawful, discriminatory ban on Muslims.
It had sparked widespread protest and caused chaos at airports throughout the US in January after it barred entrance to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
The latest order did not bar citizens of Iraq, who were included in the original ban.
Following the backlash, Mr Trump turned to loyalist Mr Giuliani to ask him how he could achieve his aim without falling foul of laws governing race relations and equality.
The Detroit case - Arab American Civil Rights League versus Trump - will be heard in the US district court in the eastern district of Michigan.