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Supreme Court Hears Trump's Travel-Ban Case

Supreme Court Hears Trump's Travel-Ban Case

More than a year after President Donald Trump caused chaos in the airports by following through on a campaign promise and restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries, the Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on the legality of a third version of the original travel ban to decide whether the President ultimately exceeded his authority.

Katyal relies on a "litany" of statements that Trump made during the campaign and afterward concerning a restriction of Muslims entering the United States and notes that even though the current proclamation was crafted after a review of the entry policies of other governments, it is a "direct descendant of previous bans" covering numerous same countries.

Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, a frequent swing vote on the conservative-majority, nine-member court, indicated unwillingness to second-guess the president on the national security justifications offered for the policy.

Neal Katyal, the Hogan Lovells partner representing Hawaii, countered that Congress had rejected any nationality-based ban, undercutting Trump's authority under law to do so.

The current version is indefinite and now applies to travelers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Minutes later, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she wanted to return to "something that's been bothering me", and again presented Francisco with the hypothetical anti-Semitic President.

It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers.

Katyal contended that the travel ban's history and circumstances "would convince any reasonable observer that it is a policy meant to exclude Muslims".

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When Solicitor General Noel Francisco took to the podium a little past 10 a.m.to defend the ban, he focused on the "worldwide multiagency review" and the cabinet-level consideration that preceded Trump's third effort as the reason why the Supreme Court should not block the effort. The ban's challengers nearly certainly need one of those two justices if the court is to strike down the ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries.

Francisco held his ground saying the presidential oath of office "marks a fundamental transformation".

The justices are reviewing a unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

But Kennedy also joined the court's more liberal justices in wondering how the president's campaign statements might infect his policies.

People waited in line for seats for days, and on Wednesday morning opponents of the ban demonstrated outside the court holding signs that read "No Muslim Ban".

"It's absolutely vital that the president maintains the ability to determine who enters the country from a security standpoint", he said. In another sign of heightened public interest, the court is taking the rare step of making an audio recording of the proceedings available just hours after the arguments end. The last time the court did that was for gay marriage arguments in 2015. The policy has been fully in effect since December, but this is the first time the justices are considering whether it violates immigration law or the Constitution. But restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela are not part of the challenge, and Chad was removed from the list earlier this month.

The administration has argued that courts have no role to play because the president has broad powers over immigration and national security, and foreigners have no right to enter the country.


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