Trump Appeals To Supreme Court To Reinstate Travel Ban

Jun 2, 2017
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Last night, the Trump administration reached out to the Supreme Court asking for an urgent review of the president's travel ban. The White House hopes the court will reinstate the plan to temporarily block visitors from six majority Muslim countries after it had been derailed by lower courts. NPR's Carrie Johnson has been reporting on this, and she is with us now to talk about it. Hey, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Kelly.

MCEVERS: What exactly is the Trump administration asking the Supreme Court to do?

JOHNSON: A few things. One, the Trump Justice Department wants the Supreme Court to lift an injunction that bars the government from putting its temporary travel ban into effect. The administration also wants the Supreme Court to hear the underlying dispute possibly as soon as this fall and rule one way or another. Remember; lower courts have raised serious doubts about whether this travel ban is constitutional.

Just last week, the 4th Circuit Appeals Court ruled the executive order is actually a pretext, cover for the ban on Muslims the president discussed during the campaign. And that court majority said the travel ban drips with religious intolerance. His Justice Department says President Trump's travel ban is well within the president's power to protect the U.S. and its borders. It says those statements by the president should be out of bounds.

MCEVERS: President Trump's latest travel ban has been blocked since March. What's the rush right now, and how soon might the Supreme Court act on this?

JOHNSON: Yeah, lawyers who do a lot of federal court appeals tell me the ACLU and other challengers to the travel ban will get some time to respond in writing. Then, perhaps next week, the high court will meet privately to discuss and vote on whether to lift that injunction on the ban. The DOJ needs five votes to lift the ruling and reinstate the travel ban. That could allow the administration to start denying some visas, taking other steps for visitors from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

And then of course, Kelly, the court's also going to have to consider whether it wants to hear this - the meat of this dispute and vote on that. The timing's a little complicated because the justices are finishing up this term. But perhaps if they agree to take the case, they can set an argument in the fall when they return from summer break.

MCEVERS: There is another court challenge to the travel ban. It's coming from the state of Hawaii. What's that one about?

JOHNSON: Well, three judges on the 9th Circuit Appeals Court are deliberating in that case now. There's no ruling yet, so it's kind of unusual for President Trump to seek Supreme Court review without a ruling there. The administration wants the high court to move ahead even without hearing from the 9th Circuit, which, by the way, is no favorite of President Trump.

The Hawaii case is a little bit more broad than the other one coming out of Maryland, and that's because the lower court judge in Hawaii stopped the administration from doing research on all this vetting of travelers - not clear whether the Supreme Court will want to wait for the 9th Circuit or just go ahead and take this case anyway. We should know more in the next week or two, Kelly.

MCEVERS: NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, thanks a lot.

JOHNSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.