Thursday, 26 April 2018

Supreme Court leans toward upholding Trump’s travel ban

President Trump on Wednesday was poised to win his travel ban case at the Supreme Court, where conservative justices signaled they would likely uphold his authority to block people from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the US.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, a frequent swing vote on the nine-member high court, both indicated they would not second-guess Trump in matters of national security.

The ban’s challengers – led by the state of Hawaii — almost certainly need one of those two justices if the court is to strike down the ban, which Trump has argued is needed to protect the US from terrorists.

Opponents of the ban have argued that the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims and that it violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on religious discrimination.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the most aggressive questioner of Solicitor General Noel Francisco in his defense of the president’s policy.

The Trump administration is asking the court to reverse lower court rulings that would strike down the ban after the justices voted in December to allow the policy to take full effect pending their consideration.

The court is considering whether Trump can indefinitely keep people out of the country based on nationality – and whether the policy is aimed at excluding Muslims from the United States.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito said during the argument that the text of Trump’s proclamation about the ban “does not look at all like a Muslim ban.”

Kennedy pressed Neal Katyal, a lawyer for the challengers, about why courts should second-guess a president’s national security judgments.

He also responded to Katyal about whether the ban would be permanent, saying the policy’s call for a report every six months “indicates there’ll be a reassessment” from time to time.

Kennedy’s only question that seemed to favor the challengers came when he asked Francisco whether Trump’s campaign trail call to keep Muslims out of the US should be considered in evaluating the ban.

Francisco told the justices that they shouldn’t look at Trump’s campaign statements.

The conservative-majority court weighed the fate of Trump’s travel ban, the third version of a policy he first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and is due to issue a ruling by the end of June.

The first version – which was blocked by courts and withdrawn — triggered nationwide chaos and protests when travelers were detained at airports and kept from boarding international flights.

Its replacement was allowed to take partial effect, but expired in September.

The current policy prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States.

It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

Chad also was on the list announced in September, but Trump removed it this month after saying the country improved “its identity-management and information sharing practices.”

Until Wednesday, the court had never heard arguments on the legal merits of the ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants known as Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children.

On Dec. 4, the court signaled it may back Trump when it granted his administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.

With Post wires

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