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Trump administration returns to Supreme Court on travel ban

Less than a year after it issued an order suspending immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Trump administration went to the Supreme Court last night, asking the justices to uphold the third version of that order, often known as the “travel ban.” Unlike the earlier version of the order, the government explained, which was “premised on uncertainty about the adequacy of other governments’ information-sharing,” the most recent iteration is a response to “specific findings that a handful of countries have deficient information-sharing practices or other factors that prevent the government from assessing the risk their nationals pose to the United States.” By blocking the president from excluding nationals from those countries, the Trump administration warned, “the courts below have overridden the President’s judgments on sensitive matters of national security and foreign relations, and severely restricted the ability of this and future Presidents to protect the nation.”

The issues surrounding the travel ban are quite familiar to the justices. In June 2017, they agreed to weigh in on two challenges to the second version of the ban, which was announced in a March 6 executive order. The court scheduled oral argument in the cases for early October, and it allowed the government to implement the ban in the meantime, at least for would-be travelers who didn’t already have some connection to the United States.

But in late September, the justices took the challenges to the March 6 order off the argument calendar after Trump issued a new version of the order – the version that the federal government has now asked the justices to review. While the March 6 froze travel from six Muslim-majority countries: Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, the September 24 order restricted travel from five of those six countries (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria and Yemen) and added three countries not covered by the earlier order (North Korea, Venezuela and Chad).

The challengers returned to the lower courts, arguing that the most recent version of the ban, like its predecessors, violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution. Late last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a district court order blocking the government from implementing the September 24 proclamation, with one exception – for would-be travelers who cannot claim a genuine connection with the United States. That ruling, the government now argues, is wrong and warrants the justices’ intervention.

Another challenge to the September 24 order is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The full court of appeals heard oral argument in that case on December 8, but it has not yet issued its ruling. Under the court’s normal procedures, the challengers’ response to tonight’s filing would be due 30 days after the government’s petition has been docketed.

This post was first published at Howe on the Court.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Trump administration returns to Supreme Court on travel ban, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 6, 2018, 12:07 AM),