Justice Department Turns to High Court to Reinstate Travel Ban


The Justice Department is "confident that President Trump's executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism", agency spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.

The administration also wants to be able to suspend the refugee program for 120 days, a separate aspect of the policy that has been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii and is now being considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case will give the first indications of how Chief Justice John Roberts's court will approach one of the most controversial presidents in the nation's history.

As a practical matter, the request for immediate action could determine the fate of the policy, given that the ban would be in effect only for 90 days.

In the court filings, Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall highlighted the unprecedented nature of courts second-guessing the president on national security and immigration.

In its ruling last week, the court found that the president's campaign season rhetoric evinces an intent to discriminate against Muslims. The panel nonetheless concluded it was unconstitutional in this instance, because Trump's stated national security interest in issuing the order was little more than a pretext for discriminating against Muslims.

The director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, Omar Jadwat, says there's no reason to undo a lower court's ruling that blocked the policy.

The legal fight pits the president's significant authority over immigration against what lower courts have said is a policy that purported to be about national security but was meant to target Muslims.

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Even if the court does not postpone all of the judges' orders barring enforcement, the filings argued, those orders should not be nationwide, but should be strictly limited to just a few people who had sued to challenge the order.

Additionally, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to allow the federal government to begin enforcing the second version of the ban while the case is being appealed.

After news of the petition broke, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson tweeted, "Federal judges at all levels repeatedly and consitently agree with my argument that President Trump's illegal and unconstituional travel ban can not go into effect".

The White House has asked the US Supreme Court to reinstate a travel ban on people from majority Muslim countries. The new case will be an early indication of how Gorsuch affects the balance of power on the court. It deleted Iraq from the list and removed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

The ban needs the backing of at least of five of the nine presiding Supreme Court justices to become law.

In the appeal itself, the Justice Department argues that the executive order's temporary pause applies to certain nationals of the designated countries without regard to religion, and the challengers conceded that it could be constitutional if issued by a different president. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals soon struck it down. The first, issued on January 27, led to chaos and protests at airports and in major US cities before it was blocked by courts.

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