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SCOTUS Could Rule on Travel Ban Soon   06/23 06:12

   The country is waiting for the court to make its decision public about the 
biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Trump's presidency. The 
issue has been tied up in the courts since Trump's original order in January 
sparked widespread protests just days after he took office.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has almost certainly decided what to do 
about President Donald Trump's travel ban affecting citizens of six mostly 
Muslim countries.

   The country is waiting for the court to make its decision public about the 
biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Trump's presidency. The 
issue has been tied up in the courts since Trump's original order in January 
sparked widespread protests just days after he took office.

   The justices met Thursday morning for their last regularly scheduled private 
conference in June and probably took a vote about whether to let the Trump 
administration immediately enforce the ban and hear the administration's appeal 
of lower court rulings blocking the ban.

   The court's decision could come any time and is expected no later than late 
next week, after which the justices will scatter for speeches, teaching gigs 
and vacations.

   Exactly when could depend on whether there are justices who disagree with 
the outcome and want to say so publicly. It might take time for such an opinion 
to be written --- and perhaps responded to by someone in the majority.

   It takes five votes to reinstate the ban, but only four to set the case for 
argument. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee who was confirmed in April, is 
taking part in the highest-profile issue yet in his three months on the court.

   The case is at the Supreme Court because two federal appellate courts have 
ruled against the Trump travel policy, which would impose a 90-day pause in 
travel from citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

   The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban 
was "rooted in religious animus" toward Muslims and pointed to Trump's campaign 
promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and 
remarks he has made since becoming president.

   The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel 
policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on 
nationality-based discrimination. That court also put a hold on separate 
aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 
120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees 
in the current government spending year that ends Sept. 30.

   Trump's first executive order on travel applied to travelers from the six 
countries as well as Iraq, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic 
at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security 
Department scrambled to figure out who the order covered and how it was to be 
implemented.

   A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 
9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it 
would revise the policy.

   In March, Trump issued a narrower order, but it too has been blocked.

   The justices have a range of options. They could immediately allow the 
administration to stop travel from the six countries and hear arguments on the 
administration's broader appeal in October. That's the path the administration 
has urged.

   But the 90-day ban will have run its course by then, and there might be 
little left for the court to rule on.

   The government has said the ban was needed to allow for an internal review 
of the screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries.

   That too should be complete before the Supreme Court reconvenes for its new 
term on October 2.

   The administration also could issue a new ban that includes more countries 
or is permanent, or both. That might make the current case go away and also 
could give rise to new legal challenges.

   The high court also might keep the ban on hold, but set the case for 
argument in October. This course might be palatable both to justices who object 
to the ban and those who don't like the breadth of the lower court rulings 
against the president.

   But it also could mean that a new policy is in effect before the court ever 
hears the case.

   The justices also could keep the ban from being reinstated and, at the same 
time, decline to review the lower court rulings. That outcome would essentially 
end the case.

   One barrier to that option could be that the court usually likes to have the 
last word when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.


(KA)

 
 
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