Trump's Travel Ban Faces a Supreme Court Test

Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson walks on Capitol

"If the court upholds the travel ban on statutory grounds, it will signal that Congress has for decades vested the president with the flexibility to respond to an unforeseeable national security dynamic", he said.

Trump's tweets about Muslims and his campaign speeches slurring the religion and its followers are well documented.

Francisco also said that because the ban does not affect the majority of the world's 2 billion Muslims, it can not be seen as targeting the religion.

Five of the nine justices appeared convinced that Trump had not overshot his authority over immigration matters in the most recent version of the ban, which the administration claims is justified by national security concerns. He also wondered if the waiver provision was mere "window-dressing". Rather, he said, it is about whether the president has the authority to modify laws that Congress already passed-specifically, lawmakers' decision not to discriminate on the basis of nationality. Like Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch saved most of their questions for the challengers. As usual, Justice Clarence Thomas remained silent.

"Your argument is", he said, "that courts have the duty to review whether or not there is such a national contingency - that's for the courts to do, not the President?" he asked Katyal.

"I think Islam hates us", Trump told CNN in a March 2016 interview with Anderson Cooper.

Trump case was heard today before the United States Supreme Court.

JUSTICE KAGAN: - and says all kinds of denigrating comments about Jews and provokes a lot of resentment and hatred over the course of a campaign and in his presidency and, in the course of that, asks his staff or his cabinet members to issue ... recommendations so that he can issue a proclamation of this kind, and they dot all the i's and they cross all the t's.

If the president had information that some Syrians had plans to bring chemical weapons into the USA, asked Roberts, could he or she ban all Syrian citizens from entering that day?

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

The Supreme Court is saving one of its biggest cases for last. Included indefinitely: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

Because the Trump order has now had an actual testing period, since it went into effect early in December, the question of how it is working became an issue that interested a number of Justices after it was first brought up by Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

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Hanging in the balance now are almost 150 million residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Chad was on the list of countries targeted by Trump that was announced in September, but Trump removed it on April 10.

Supporters of President Donald Trump's travel ban are probably hoping Solicitor General Noel Francisco is a better attorney than he is a geographer.

The brief said the president's order showed "blatant religious discrimination", which is "repugnant to the Catholic faith, core American values, and the United States Constitution".

As for the religious discrimination issues, Mr. Francisco disputed the premise but said even if a president did have deep-seated animus the fact that he is supported by his Cabinet - top officers independently confirmed by the Senate to their posts - makes the policy legal. The ban also affects two non-Muslim countries.

What do you think of the travel ban?

Only one side of the argument over President Trump's travel ban was well represented outside court Wednesday. If you go back and look at all 43 executive orders that Presidents have issued, none of them have even arguably countermanded Congress's judgment in the area.

Trump's travel ban was changed to address the public concerns, and it is now on its third reiteration. Francisco insisted that Trump's third ban was not based on religion, but national security, and was signed after a "world-wide multi-agency review".

The ban's challengers nearly certainly need one of those two justices if the court is to strike down the ban.

The internment ruling is seen as particularly relevant, as wartime judges allowed President Franklin Roosevelt's detention of about 112,000 Japanese Americans after Japan's hit on Pearl Harbor - an event with parallels to al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks. But they peppered Neal Katyal with presidential power questions and hypotheticals when he rose to argue for the challengers. The high-stakes arguments at the high court on Wednesday could offer some indication about how a court that runs on respect for traditions and precedent will deal with a president who regularly breaks with convention.

Among those inside the courtroom Wednesday was White House counsel Don McGahn, seated next to former Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall's widow, Cecilia.

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