An amicus brief filed March 30 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network said the ban singles out "populations of six overwhelmingly Muslim nations for sweeping immigration restrictions" that do not exist elsewhere in the world. There are other justifications that jump out as to why these particular countries were put on - on the list.
The justices are considering whether President Trump can indefinitely keep people out of the country based on nationality.
JUSTICE KENNEDY: You would say whatever he said in the campaign is irrelevant? . Other justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito, also highlighted the President's power in this area.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's appointee, questioned whether the challengers had standing to sue in the first place. Justice Clarence Thomas remained silent. In another indication of heightened public interest, the court released an audio recording after arguments ended. All told, the order now applies to five countries with Muslim majorities.
Audrey Bernier of Baltimore, Md., attends an anti-Muslim ban rally outside the Supreme Court on April 25, 2018.
In the first half of the argument, Kennedy did signal that courts should be able to review words from candidates from the campaign trail.
The court is not expected to reach its verdict until June.
"Could the president ban the entry of Syrian nationals" if he had evidence that some Syrians had chemical or biological weapons? That 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on refugees worldwide, was struck down by federal district and appeals courts the following month. And one nation was recently dropped off of that list. That authority, he said, is so broad that the Supreme Court simply can not second-guess it.
Moreover, the court's so-called "liberal" wing has itself repeatedly voted to allow the basic framework of Trump's reactionary travel ban to go into effect.
Hanging in the balance now are almost 150 million residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.More news: Google rolls out the new redesigned Gmail for everyone
Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, of the court's liberal wing, also presented stinging and pointed hypotheticals of a hateful politician during the oral argument, asking the lawyers whether they should ignore a background of bigotry when evaluating policy. If a mayoral candidate made hateful statements and then acted on them once elected, he said, wouldn't that be relevant?
A State Department spokeswoman declined to say why it would not provide numbers for visa applications from the banned countries. Roberts asked. "Does that mean he can't because you would regard that as discrimination against a majority Muslim country?".
Only one side of the argument over President Trump's travel ban was well represented outside court Wednesday.
But the president's opponents, led by former top Obama administration top litigator Neal Katyal, said Mr. Trump has forfeited that deference with a history of angry tweets and a policy so broad it has to be the product of deep - and unconstitutional - anti-Muslim anger.
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Trump's third iteration of the Muslim ban- which would seriously limited travel and emigration from Muslim-majority countries Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as, North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials- was issued on September 24th, 2017 and supposed to take effect October 18th, 2017.
The ban's challengers nearly certainly need one of those two justices if the court is to strike down the ban. Judge Watson's ruling was upheld on appeal by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2017.
But... maybe Roberts and Kennedy are trying to figure out how to defer to national security concerns, without authorizing the kind of bigotry embodied in the travel ban, and Katyal was giving them a hook to hang their hats on.
They were angry about King George III abusing his immigration powers, Katyal said, and they concluded, "These decisions are too important to be left to the decision-making of one man".
"I think the president could have easily moved away from all of these statements, you know, but instead they embraced them".