Associated Press, April 25, 2018
The Supreme Court is saving one of its biggest cases for last. The justices are hearing arguments Wednesday over President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries.
The Trump administration is asking the court to reverse lower court rulings striking down the ban. The policy has been fully in effect since December, but this is the first time the justices are considering whether it violates immigration law or the Constitution.
The court will consider whether the president can indefinitely keep people out of the country based on nationality. It will also look at whether the policy is aimed at excluding Muslims from the United States.
People have been waiting in line for a seat for days. In another sign of heightened public interest, the court is taking the rare step of making an audio recording of the proceedings available just hours after the arguments end. The last time was the gay marriage arguments in 2015.
The travel ban is the first Trump policy to undergo a full-blown Supreme Court review.
The current version is indefinite and now applies to travelers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
A sixth majority Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list this month after improving ‘its identity-management and information sharing practices,’ Trump said in a proclamation.
The administration has argued that courts have no role to play because the president has broad powers over immigration and national security, and foreigners have no right to enter the country.
[Solicitor General Noel] Francisco also has said in written arguments that Trump’s September proclamation laying out the current policy comports with immigration law and does not violate the Constitution because it does not single out Muslims.
The challengers, backed by a diverse array of supporting legal briefs, have said that Trump is flouting immigration law by trying to keep more than 150 million people, the vast majority of them Muslim, from entering the country.