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Trump travel ban returns to U.S. Supreme Court

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The Trump administration argues that this one is different because it was imposed only after the administration surveyed more than 200 countries for their effectiveness in providing information about the backgrounds of visa applicants and their success in fighting terrorism at home.

A central question in the case is how much power the president has to block the entry of millions of foreign nationals.

The Justice Department argues that the Constitution and federal laws give the president “broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens outside the United States when he deems it in the nation’s interest.” While immigration law doesn’t require the president to spell out detailed findings before he invokes the authority, the government says, the September proclamation “is more detailed as a matter of both process and substance than any prior order” limiting travel.

Other presidents have used this power to ban travel by large classes of people, says Solicitor General Noel Francisco, such as President Ronald Reagan, who suspended entry by all Cuban nationals in retaliation for Cuba’s suspension of an immigration agreement.

But the challengers say the law gives the president power to ban only foreign nationals who share some characteristic making them harmful to admit to the U.S. In this case, says Neal Katyal, representing Hawaii, “it bans the immigration of a sprawling group of 150 million who share nothing in common but nationality.”

What’s more, he says, the president can only suspend admission — that is, ban issuing visas — temporarily. The current ban, by contrast, is more or less permanent.

The challengers also say the travel ban is unconstitutional because it is based on religious animus, citing frequent promises from Donald Trump, as a candidate and as president, to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

“Any reasonable observer who heard the president’s campaign promises,” Katyal says, “would see this as the fulfillment of the president’s promise to prohibit Muslim immigration to the United States.”

But the government says the proclamation’s history and text are neutral with regard to religion. It was the result, the Justice Department says, of foreign policy and security decisions by several government agencies.

The first executive order on travel, announced Feb. 1, 2017, caused chaos at major airports when border officials refused to admit travelers who were in flight when the rules went into effect. It was quickly blocked by the courts. Enforcement of a revised travel ban, issued about a month later, was also stopped by lower court judges. The Supreme Court allowed it to be enforced except for visa applicants with family or other close U.S. connections, but it expired before it was to be the subject of a full blown Supreme Court review.

After the justices hear the case on Wednesday morning, a transcript and an audio recording of the courtroom argument will be posted by 2 p.m. ET on the court’s website, www.supremecourt.gov.

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Obama on filling Ginsburg’s seat: Apply rules with consistency

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In paying tribute to the service and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former President Barack Obama also called on Senate Republicans to wait to fill the seat until after inauguration day.

“Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in,” Obama wrote.

“A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.

“The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard,” Obama wrote.

President Barack Obama greets Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill Jan. 24, 2012.Saul Loeb / Pool via Getty Images

Obama called Ginsburg, who died Friday at the age of 87, an inspiration who “fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals.”

“But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored,” Obama wrote in a statement, an apparent reference to Ginsburg’s comments, reported by NPR, to her granddaughter that she did not wish to be replaced until a new president is installed.

The questions before the high court, and the ones to come “are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process,” the former president said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, did not allow a hearing on Obama’s nominee for the high court, Merrick Garland, in 2016.

On Friday, hours after news of Ginsburg’s death, McConnell said in a statement that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

He argued that the situations in 2016 and 2020 are different.

“In the last midterm election before Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” he said.

McConnell continued, “By contrast, Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday called Ginsburg a hero, but in comments and a Tweet said the choice on her successor should be made by whoever wins the presidential election.

“Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg,” Biden tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also tweeted Friday: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

The line was the exact same phrase McConnell used in 2016 to block Obama’s nominee to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Scalia.



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Sturgeon blasted for drawing up different lockdown rules from Boris 'for the sake of it'

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NICOLA STURGEON failed to inform UK ministers of her plan to bring in a different version of the “rule of six” regulations despite Boris Johnson’s Government wanting all four nations to work together, it has emerged.

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Brexit talks BREAKDOWN as hauliers rage at Michael Gove over 'washout'

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CRUNCH Brexit talks have broken down between Westminster and haulage firms risking traffic chaos at the Border.

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