Latest on the Supreme Court case about President Trump's travel ban

During the first half-hour of the argument, the court's liberals, led by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, suggested Trump's order reflected unconstitutional religious bias. The justices said nothing about the substance of the policy, either in December or in earlier actions involving the ban. The travel ban, he added, is in violation of that. "We will prevail in the Supreme Court of the United States of America". Sanders, the White House, and Trump himself have not specifically distanced themselves from the "Muslim ban" proposal, which is explicitly racist and is widely agreed to be illegal.

Turning serious, Roberts emphasized that the President has broad authority to enact policies in response to a national security emergency.

Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, told the nine Supreme Court justices that the President's proclamation is constitutional.

But, in this case, Neal Katyal, a former Solicitor General who was arguing the case for Hawaii, had just pointed out that Congress hadn't even been given a chance to be dysfunctional. Hence the prevailing narrative that the government's side is likely to win. "That indicates there'll be a reassessment and the president has continuing discretion", Kennedy said.

Before, during and after the oral arguments, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Supreme Court on the rainy spring morning holding up signs saying: "Refugees Welcome" and "No Muslim Ban" The fairly small crowd should not belie the interest in this case, which received friend of the court briefs from Mormon history and legal scholars, a group of U.S art museums, and Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who criticized Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

The order was made on national security grounds - purportedly to protect the country from terror attacks - and officials said the time limit would allow for a review and improvement of immigration vetting in those countries. Tens of thousands of legal visas were revoked.

"Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the unsafe threat it poses, our country can not be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad and have no sense of reason or respect for human life", Trump continued.

But there is, of course, a co-star here: the president.

She told him she doubted that the president has "the authority to do more than Congress has already decided is adequate" under immigration law.

He's not talking about people coming in or something like that, like your hypothetical. Congress makes immigration laws.

"You have to deal with the mosques, whether we like it or not".

You've got to show biometric ID under the statute. Its toughness, he argued, derived from how "extreme" it was, in part because "Israel happens to be one of the country's closest allies in the war against terrorism". This protection differentiates us from many countries around the world.

Kennedy challenged Katyal about whether the ban would be unending. Kennedy countered that it was eligible to be reviewed after 180 days.

This is that. And that's why this is unlike any other executive order.

Looking for news you can trust? Francisco seemed somewhat uncomfortable with the hypothetical but, in essence, said it might depend on whether the president had national security reasons for singling out a specific country. Which is true, but concedes Katyal's point that no other immigration executive order has done it that way. It has triggered protests, including one outside the court that saw activists carrying signs that read "Proud American Muslim" and "No Bigotry, No Hate".

Even Justice Kagan seemed troubled by aspects of Katyal's argument. A furious Trump bashed the courts and his own Justice Department, but was forced to recast the ban again. In the notorious Dred Scott case of 1857, judges found that blacks could not be considered United States citizens, whether they were free or slave.

First, Trump's lawyers question whether anyone can go to court to challenge an executive order barring entry of a noncitizen. Alito sounded that way. But Roberts and Kennedy sounded like men honestly trying to work it out. I'm basically hoping that Roberts and Kennedy will change their mind. And the Court never really reached that moment in today's questioning. It was created to shield us from the often-violent religious battles that others have endured.

  • Leroy Wright