US President Donald Trump asks Supreme Court to reinstate controversial Muslim travel ban
Trump issued his initial travel ban by executive order in January, but that measure was quickly halted by the courts
US President Donald Trump’s administration has asked the US Supreme Court to reinstate its temporary ban on travellers from six Muslim majority nations despite repeated setbacks in the lower courts.
In its filing, the government asked the top US court to rule on the legal standing of Trump’s order, appealing a ruling by the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a nationwide block of the travel ban.
It also asked the Supreme Court to lift another US-wide injunction issued by a federal judge in a separate case in Hawaii. That case is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a decision is pending.
The administration 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”, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.
“The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”
The filing occurred one week after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling dealt a fresh blow to Trump’s efforts to push the controversial travel ban.
The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the legal groups challenging the ban, tweeted in response: “We’ve beat this hateful ban and are ready to do it again.”
The Fourth Circuit said it “remained unconvinced” that the part of the measure naming the specific countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – had “more to do with national security than it does with effectuating the president’s promised Muslim ban”. It said it was unclear whether
the government’s security concerns outweighed the plaintiffs’ concerns about discrimination.
During his election campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. His administration has argued that the travel ban is needed to prevent terrorism in the US.
The Court of Appeals “concluded that the president acted in bad faith with religious animus when, after consulting with three members of his cabinet, he placed a brief pause on entry from six countries that present heightened risks of terrorism”, the filing read.
That court’s decision “creates uncertainty about the president’s authority to meet those threats as
the Constitution and acts of Congress empower and obligate him to do”.
Trump issued his initial travel ban by executive order in January, but that measure – which banned entry to nationals from seven countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee programme for 120 days – was quickly halted by the courts.
The administration said the travel ban was needed so it could evaluate existing screening methods protocols and set new ones.
A revised executive order in March meant to address concerns raised by the federal judges. It deleted Iraq from the list and removed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. The order, however, was widely criticised, including by human rights activists and US states led by Democrats.
Federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii issued a nationwide block on the measure, sending the issue to the relevant appellate courts.
Given the case’s high-profile nature, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia heard the arguments last week – bypassing the usual initial three-judge panel – for the first time in a quarter of a century. Thirteen of the court’s 15 active judges took part. Two recused themselves over potential conflicts of interest.
Additional reporting by Reuters