travel ban



More than 200 rabbis from the liberal movements of American Judaism signed a letter opposing Israel’s travel ban on leaders of the boycott movement against Israel.

The rabbis signing Wednesday’s letter were responding to an incident last month in which Rabbi Alissa Wise of Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, was prevented from boarding an Israel-bound airplane leaving Dulles Airport in Washington, DC.

Four other people traveling to Israel as part of an interfaith delegation, including two other Jews, a Christian and a Muslim, were also prevented from boarding the flight at the request of the Israeli government.

“We hold diverse opinions on BDS. Even though many of us have substantive differences with Rabbi Wise and other rabbinic colleagues who support the BDS movement in some or all of its forms, we believe that the decision to bar Rabbi Wise from visiting Israel is anti-democratic and desecrates our vision of a diverse Jewish community that holds multiple perspectives,” read the letter, which had been signed by 212 rabbis as of late Wednesday morning.

“Boycotts are a legitimate nonviolent tactic that have been used both in our own country and around the world in order to create justice for marginalized and oppressed communities. Whether we support boycott is a controversy for the sake of heaven. It endures because we struggle together and debate how we can create peace, justice, and equality for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the letter said.

The signers included Rabbi Sharon Brous, of the independent IKAR congregation in Los Angeles; Rabbi Amy Eilberg of Los Altos, California, the first women ordained by the Conservative movement; and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

In March, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, amended the Law of Entry to prevent leaders of the BDS movement from being allowed into Israel. The amendment applies to organizations, as well as the leadership and senior activists of those groups, that take consistent and significant action against Israel through BDS and threaten it with material harm.

JVP said at the time of the incident that it was the first time the amendment had been enforced before passengers boarded their flights to Israel and the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their support of BDS.

An anti-BDS bill making its way through Congress would expand existing law that bans boycotts imposed by foreign governments to include those imposed by international organizations like the European Union and the United Nations.


Judge in Hawaii rules grandparents are exempt from Trump travel ban

A federal judge in Hawaii has ruled that grandparents and other relatives should be exempt from the enforcement of President Trump’s travel ban, which bars people from six Muslim-majority countries.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled Thursday night that the federal government’s list of family relatives eligible to bypass the travel ban should be expanded to include grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts and other relatives. Watson also ordered exemptions for refugees who have been given formal assurance from agencies placing them in the United States.

In Watson’s ruling, he said the government’s definition of what constitutes close family “represents the antithesis of common sense.”

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson wrote. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”

The order delivered another legal hit to the president’s travel ban and a “sweeping victory” for those against it, as Neal Katyal, a lawyer for those challenging the measure, wrote. The ruling from Watson, a judge who has frequently been criticized by Trump and his administration for his unfavorable orders, marked yet another successful attempt by Hawaii to challenge the administration’s executive order.

The Supreme Court ruled late last month that the government could begin enforcing the travel restrictions, but not on people with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.

The Trump administration then decided to make exceptions for spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, fiances and siblings of those already in the country. However, they barred grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

The government rolled out the measure on June 29, affecting travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. As part of the measure, officials could also block refugees with a formal assurance from a resettlement agency.

Hawaii had asked Watson to rule on the federal government’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Trump’s executive order, arguing that the list of exemptions to the travel ban was too narrow.

In his ruling, Watson wrote that modifying the scope of the ban is “necessary to preserve the status quo” in regards to the government’s definition of “close familial relationship.” The government’s use of specific, family-based visa restrictions “constitutes cherry-picking,” and contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision late last month, Watson wrote.

Watson also ordered exemptions for refugees that are members of the Lautenberg program, which allows certain nationals of the former Soviet Union and other countries with “close family in the United States” to apply for refugee status. Refugees through this program were previously not exempt from the ban because the program includes grandparents and grandchildren as “close family,” according to Watson’s ruling.

He also argued a refugee’s assurance from an agency satisfies the Supreme Court’s “bona fide” relationship requirement because of the formal, binding nature of the contract.

“Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that,” Watson wrote.

As part of his executive order, Trump set a 50,000-person cap on refugee admissions, which the United States already surpassed on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Watson denied a similar request to curtail enforcement and clarify who is exempt from the ban, saying that he would not “usurp the prerogative of the Supreme Court.” But late Thursday night, he ruled that this time around, the plaintiffs had met their burden of establishing why legal relief was necessary.

Read the judge’s ruling

Iran Officially Denounces Trump’s Travel Ban

Although some of the people to denounce President Donald Trump’s travel ban have been local (and liberal), the latest entity to denounce the travel ban is unlikely to worry the Trump administration too much.

The world’s foremost sponsor of terror, Iran, called out the travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries on Friday, calling it a “shameful exhibition,” according to The Daily Caller.

I’m sure the latest announcement from the murderous mullahs will just mortify the Trump administration.

“US now bans Iranian grandmothers from seeing their grandchildren, in a truly shameful exhibition of blind hostility to all Iranians,” wrote Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Twitter Friday.

U.S. now bans Iranian grandmothers from seeing their grandchildren, in a truly shameful exhibition of blind hostility to all Iranians.

Meanwhile, CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned viewers in an interview with MSNBC last week that Iran continues to be the greatest sponsor of terror out there, and what’s worse — its influence is expanding.

“Whether it’s the influence they have over the government in Baghdad, whether it’s the increasing strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon, their work alongside the Houthis in Iran, the Iraqi Shias that are fighting along now the border in Syria — certainly the Shia forces that are engaged in Syria,” he said in an interview that aired June 24, according to NBC New York.

“Iran is everywhere throughout the Middle East.”

Trump’s travel ban went into partial effect on Thursday after its proponents fought a long and bitter battle in the courts, according to The Associated Press via Fox News. It made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which stayed previous rulings by lower courts looking to play the part of the liberal resister.

As The Daily Caller reports, the ban will require those  traveling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to prove that they have some relationship with something or someone within the United States.

Of course, even that is too much for many liberals out there, who find themselves in the pleasant company of the foreign minister of the world’s greatest sponsor of terror.

Stepsister, Yes; Grandma, No: U.S. Sets Guidelines for Revised Travel Ban

WASHINGTON — Stepsiblings and half-siblings are allowed, but not nieces or nephews. Sons- and daughters-in-law are in, but brothers- and sisters-in-law are not. Parents, including in-laws, are considered “close family,” but grandparents are not.

The State Department issued new guidelines Wednesday night to American embassies and consulates on applying a limited travel ban against foreign visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Enforcement of the guidelines will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

The guidelines followed the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to allow parts of the Trump administration’s revised travel ban to move forward, while also imposing certain limits, as the court prepares to hear arguments in October on the scope of presidential power over border security and immigration.

The court said the ban could not be imposed on anyone who had “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The meaning of “bona fide relationship” was not precisely explained, and the phrase has created much uncertainty for migrants and others seeking to travel to the United States from the six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — covered by the revised travel ban that President Trump issued in March. (An earlier version of the ban included Iraq.)

The Trump administration has now made the definition explicit.

According to a diplomatic cable obtained by The New York Times, “close family” is “defined as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, whether whole or half. This includes step relationships.”

But it went on to state that “close family” does not include “grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and any other ‘extended’ family members.”

It is not clear how the administration arrived at the new definitions.

Under existing law, Americans may petition for immigration visas for “immediate relatives” — defined as the parents, spouses and children (under 21) of United States citizens.

Other relatives may be granted immigration visas, but there is a ranking of preferences, and the visas are subject to numerical limitations: first, unmarried adult children of citizens; then spouses and children (under 21) of permanent residents; then married adult children of American citizens; and, finally, siblings of adult American citizens. But those definitions apply to people seeking to immigrate — not merely to visit.

A bona fide relationship with a “U.S. entity,” according to the cable, “must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the E.O.,” or executive order.

The new guidelines make clear that someone who has accepted a job offer from a company in the United States or an invitation to deliver a lecture at an American university may enter, but that a nonprofit group may not seek out citizens of the affected countries and count them as clients for the purpose of getting around the ban.

“Also, a hotel reservation, whether or not paid, would not constitute a bona fide relationship with an entity in the United States,” the guidelines note.

Immigration rights advocates who had challenged the travel ban in court said the ruling this week meant the vast majority of people seeking to enter the United States to visit a relative, accept a job, attend a university or deliver a speech would still be able to do so.

But Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrants’ rights project, said on Thursday the new guidelines troubled him, particularly as they could be read as creating arbitrary definitions of family relationships.

“Initial reports suggest that the government may try to unilaterally expand the scope of the ban — for example, by arbitrarily refusing to treat certain categories of familial relationships as ‘bona fide,’ ” he said. “These reports are deeply concerning.”

If the United States immediately starts enforcing new rules, Mr. Jadwat said, “it means that everybody is going to be in the situation of kind of scrambling to understand whatever they put out, and work through the issues.”

Jewish groups criticize Supreme Court decision to allow parts of Trump’s travel ban

The Jewish resettlement agency HIAS and the Anti-Defamation League decried the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow parts of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to be enforced.

On Monday, the court said it would hear the appeals of two cases that had resulted from the travel ban, which aimed to keep the citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.

The high court agreed to stay parts of rulings that had blocked the ban from being enforced. The partial stay means that foreigners with no US ties could be prohibited from entering the country, but those with ties such as through business or personal relationship would remain unaffected, The New York Times reported. Those who had been to the country previously also could enter.

HIAS — formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society — is among the plaintiffs suing Trump in one of the cases the Supreme Court agreed to take on. It called the announcement “mixed news” in a statement, praising it for limiting some of the executive order’s reach but criticizing the court for partially allowing the executive order to be enforced.

“HIAS welcomes the ruling as an affirmation that the president does not have unfettered unchecked authority to bar refugees from the United States without evidence to justify such action,” said the group’s CEO and president, Mark Hetfield. “We also welcome the ruling as confirmation that there are limits to the president’s ability to bar non-citizens from the United States based on unsubstantiated presumptions relating only to their nation of birth.”

Hetfield criticized the fact that those without such ties could now be barred from entering the United States.

“We are very disappointed, however, that others will be arbitrarily excluded,” Hetfield said. “Certainly in the case of refugees, this order will have a tragic toll on those who have fled for their lives and played by our rules to find refuge in the United States.”

HIAS was founded in the 1880s as a resource for newly arrived Jewish immigrants.

The Anti-Defamation League, along with its criticism, also praised the court for limiting the scope of the order.

“We were pleased that the court appropriately recognized that there are limitations on the president’s authority when it comes to immigration generally,” its national director and CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement. “But the court’s failure to recognize the plight of the world’s most endangered refugees – those fleeing countries where their lives are in imminent danger – is profoundly disappointing,”

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action sharply criticized the stay that would allow parts of the ban to be enforced, calling it “a deeply harmful decision.”

“At a minimum, because of the court’s decision today, we will be betraying a fundamental American and Jewish value by turning away countless individuals who are seeking a better life in our nation, some of them fleeing life-threatening violence,” the group’s CEO, Stosh Cotler, said in a statement.

On the Supreme Court’s Last Day, Waiting for Trump Travel Ban Ruling


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court heads into Monday, its last day of the current term, with two important questions so far unanswered: What’s to become of President Donald Trump’s travel ban and will 80-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy retire?

The court will also announce the remaining decisions of the term, including the fate of laws in 39 states that bar direct taxpayer aid to churches and the ability of the parents of a 15-year-old boy to sue the federal border agent who killed him.

The Justice Department has urged the justices to lift bans imposed by lower courts blocking enforcement of the president’s executive order on travel. It called for a 90-day ban on issuing visas to citizens of Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who want to come to the US.

The administration argued that the measure had a legitimate national security purpose, allowing the government to assess the reliability of background information on visa applicants from six countries associated with terrorism.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, said the executive order amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination. Its ruling cited campaign statements by Trump, who originally called for a ban on Muslim immigration.

Separately, a panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the order violated federal immigration laws that require a more substantial national security justification than the White House offered.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will take up the appeal of those lower court orders and, in the meantime, allow the government to enforce the executive order while the appeal is pending.

Speculation about a possible retirement by Kennedy also has been swirling for months, partly fueled by rumors. Sen. Charles Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said in April that he “would expect a resignation this summer,” but added that he had no definitive information.

Image: Trump listens as Justice Kennedy speaks before swearing in Judge Neil Gorsuch
President Donald Trump listens as Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks before swearing in Judge Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Supreme Court Justice at the White House on April 10, 2017. Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

Kennedy will turn 81 in another month. A Ronald Reagan appointee, he has served on the Supreme Court for 29 years. Some friends say he has suggested that he might retire. But he has given no outward sign that he might, and he has hired his normal complement of law clerks for the coming term.

A Kennedy retirement would give Trump the ability to profoundly reshape the court. In many divisive cases, the court lineup tends to be four conservatives and four liberals, with Kennedy casting the fifth and deciding vote.

With Kennedy joining the conservatives, the court gutted the Voting Rights Act, reduced federal regulation of money in political campaigns, and declared that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to gun ownership.

Kennedy’s votes with the liberals produced rulings striking down state laws against same-sex marriage, upholding abortion rights, and limiting the use of the death penalty.

“A Kennedy retirement would be an epic change,” said Tom Goldstein, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and publisher of SCOTUSblog. “Kennedy is a conservative but has moderate tendencies. A replacement chosen by President Trump would give conservatives the solid majority on the court they’ve been hoping for since the Nixon administration.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 84, and Stephen Breyer, 78, have shown no signs that they intend to step down.

Also Monday, the court will likely announce whether it will take or reject several appeals that have been piling up for months, including the right to carry a gun outside the home and whether businesses can refuse to provide their services for same-sex marriage ceremonies

Trump Loses Travel Ban Ruling in Appeals Court

WASHINGTON — A second federal appeals court has ruled against President Trump’s revised travel ban, delivering on Monday the latest in a string of defeats for the administration’s efforts to limit travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

The administration has already sought a Supreme Court review of a similar decision issued last month by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. Monday’s decision came from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco.

The two courts employed different reasoning to arrive at the same basic conclusion. The Fourth Circuit said the revised executive order violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.

The Ninth Circuit, by contrast, rested its conclusions on statutory grounds. It said Mr. Trump had exceeded the authority Congress granted him in making national security judgments in the realm of immigration without adequate justification.

“The order does not offer a sufficient justification to suspend the entry of more than 180 million people on the basis of nationality,” the Ninth Circuit’s opinion said. “National security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power.”

The decision, from a three-judge panel, was unanimous. It was issued jointly by Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez. All three were appointed by President Bill Clinton.

The ruling affirmed most of a March decision from Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the Federal District Court in Hawaii. But the appeals court narrowed the injunction issued by Judge Watson in a significant way.

The appeals court said Judge Watson had erred in barring the administration from conducting internal reviews of its vetting procedures while the case moved forward.

That may turn out to be important as the Supreme Court considers how to address the two cases.

The key part of the executive order suspended travel from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days to give the administration time to conduct a review of its vetting procedures. If that review can soon be completed, the justices may decide that the case will soon be moot.

In briefs filed Monday in the Supreme Court, lawyers challenging the revised executive order urged the court not to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of the Fourth Circuit’s decision or to stay the injunctions entered in the two cases.

They said the cases might be moot as soon as Wednesday, as the 90-day suspension of entry contemplated by the revised executive order was, counting from its effective date, set to expire then.

The administration has argued that Judge Watson’s ruling stopped the 90-day clock. It asked the justices to agree to hear an appeal of the Fourth Circuit decision before they leave for their summer break and to schedule arguments in the fall.

By lifting the part of Judge Watson’s injunction that barred review of internal vetting procedures in the meantime, the Ninth Circuit may have ensured that the case will be moot by the time it is argued, no matter how the 90 days are calculated.

“It would be unnecessary and wasteful for the court to grant review of an issue that is essentially moot,” lawyers for the State of Hawaii wrote.

Like the Fourth Circuit, Judge Watson blocked major parts of the revised order on the ground that they violated the Constitution’s ban on a government establishment of religion. Judge Watson wrote that the statements of Mr. Trump and his advisers made clear that his executive order amounted to an attempt to disfavor Muslims.

Judge Watson should not have reached the constitutional issue and should have ruled on statutory grounds, the Ninth Circuit said.

“We need not, and do not, reach the Establishment Clause claim to resolve this appeal,” the appeals court’s opinion said.

Judge Watson’s injunction was broader than the one affirmed by the Fourth Circuit. In addition to halting the limits on travel from the six countries, Judge Watson blocked a 120-day suspension of the nation’s refugee program and a 50,000-person cap on refugee admissions in 2017, down from 110,000. The Ninth Circuit affirmed those parts of Judge Watson’s decision.

The Ninth Circuit said it had a role to play in testing Mr. Trump’s actions.

“Whatever deference we accord to the president’s immigration and national security policy judgments does not preclude us from reviewing the policy at all,” the appeals court’s opinion said. “We do not abdicate the judicial role, and we affirm our obligation ‘to say what the law is’ in this case,” it added, quoting Marbury v. Madison, the foundational 1803 Supreme Court decision.

A federal law gives the president the power to exclude foreigners if he finds that letting them enter the country “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

The appeals court said Mr. Trump had exceeded that authority, in large part because he had failed to offer adequate justifications for his order.

“In suspending the entry of more than 180 million nationals from six countries, suspending the entry of all refugees, and reducing the cap on the admission of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year,” the court said, “the president did not meet the essential precondition to exercising his delegated authority: The president must make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.’”

The court said Mr. Trump’s justifications for the executive order were inadequate.

“The order does not tie these nationals in any way to terrorist organizations within the six designated countries,” the opinion said. “It does not identify these nationals as contributors to active conflict or as those responsible for insecure country conditions. It does not provide any link between an individual’s nationality and their propensity to commit terrorism or their inherent dangerousness.”

“In short,” the opinion concluded, “the order does not provide a rationale explaining why permitting entry of nationals from the six designated countries under current protocols would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

The appeals court also ruled that the administration had run afoul of another provision of the immigration laws, one that forbids discrimination “because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence,” but only “in the issuance of an immigrant visa.” The Trump administration argued that the power to bar entry, the subject of a different provision, was broader than the limits on issuing visas.

The appeals court said the two provisions must be read together.

“We cannot blind ourselves to the fact that, for nationals of the six designated countries,” the opinion said, the revised order “is effectively a ban on the issuance of immigrant visas.”

Trump’s latest tweets will probably hurt effort to restore travel ban


President Trump on Monday derided the revised travel ban as a “watered down” version of the first and criticized his own Justice Department’s handling of the case — potentially hurting the administration’s defense of the ban as the legal battle over it reaches a critical new stage.

Trump in a tweet called the new ban “politically correct,” ignoring the fact that he himself signed the executive order replacing the first ban with a revised version that targeted six, rather than seven, Muslim-majority countries and that blocked the issuance of new visas rather than revoking current ones.

Trump said the Justice Department should seek a “much tougher version” and made clear — despite his press secretary’s past remarks to the contrary — that the executive order is a “ban,” not a pause on some sources of immigration or an enhanced vetting system.

“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Trump wrote.

The president’s tweets could significantly damage his administration’s effort to restore the ban, which has been put on hold by two federal courts.


Next week, those suing are expected to file arguments on the matter with the Supreme Court, and Trump’s latest remarks will surely be part of their briefs. The administration appealed to the nation’s highest court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld the freeze on the ban last month.

Neal Katyal, the lawyer who argued for the challengers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, wrote on Twitter, “Its kinda odd to have the defendant in HawaiivTrump acting as our co-counsel. We don’t need the help but will take it!” He also wrote that he was “waiting now for the inevitable cover-my-tweet posts from him that the Solicitor General will no doubt insist upon.”

Even George Conway, a prominent lawyer who recently took himself out of the running to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Division and who is the husband of top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, posted on Twitter that the remarks might hurt the legal case.

“These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad,” he wrote, using abbreviations for Office of Solicitor General and the Supreme Court.


A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president was “not at all” concerned that his tweets might muddy the legal case, and his attention was instead on the substance of his executive order. She said she was not aware of any vetting of his tweets by lawyers or aides.

How Trump’s travel ban broke from the normal executive order process

“The president is very focused on exactly what that order spells out, and that’s protecting Americans, protecting national security, and he has every constitutional authority to do that through that executive order and he maintains that, and that position hasn’t changed in the slightest,” Sanders said.

Trump himself indicated late in the day that he had no intention of backing down from his early morning sentiments, tweeting, “That’s right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won’t help us protect our people!”

Federal judges across the country have focused acutely on Trump’s own comments in ordering that the ban be frozen, determining that the president’s words expose the measure as being a tool for discrimination disguised as a national security directive.

The majority opinion in the 4th Circuit maintaining the freeze on the ban quoted extensively from Trump’s tweets and media interviews, and from those of his advisers. On the campaign trail, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Omar C. Jadwat, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who argued the case in the 4th Circuit, wrote that Trump’s tweets amounted to “a promise: let me do this and I’ll take it as license to do even worse.” In an interview, Jadwat said the president’s tweets “seem to undermine the picture the government’s been trying to paint.”

“I can’t say for sure what our brief is going to look like, but this stuff seems relevant,” Jadwat said.

Government lawyers have sought to convince judges that they should not consider the president’s statements but instead limit their analysis to the text of the ban. They have also sought to portray the president’s words as campaign trail rhetoric, and noted that many of the remarks in question — though not all — came before Trump was elected.

“We shouldn’t start down the road of psychoanalyzing what people meant on the campaign trail,” acting solicitor general Jeffrey B. Wall told judges at a recent court hearing in the 9th Circuit.

Trump’s latest tweets — which were later set to dramatic music and posted in a video on his Facebook page— will provide those challenging the ban more examples of post-election remarks and a stronger case that Trump’s revised travel ban had the same purpose as the original version.

That version, which unilaterally revoked the visas of tens of thousands of people from seven Muslim-majority countries, was seen as much harder to defend because it was more onerous and had a provision in the text that seemed designed to exempt Christian travelers.

Trump tweeted Monday that the Justice Department “should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted” to the Supreme Court. In addition to creating possible headaches in court, that misstates the process. Trump signed the executive order imposing the ban. The Justice Department defends his policies in court.

Trump also wrote that the Justice Department “should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court — & seek much tougher version!” The Supreme Court would not be the body to enact a ban; the justices will be weighing whether Trump’s order is constitutional.

The travel ban seems to have been on Trump’s mind since the terrorist attack in London on Saturday, when Trump wrote on Twitter, “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

Legal analysts were quick to point out that the president was hurting his own case.

“In case it’s not obvious, these will only undermine the government’s case before #SCOTUS for both a stay & on the merits of the #TravelBan,” University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck posted on Twitter. “These will also go a long way toward mooting debate over use of campaign statements; no need when, as President, he still says these things.”

Trump also wrote on Twitter that the administration was already “EXTREME VETTING” travelers coming into the United States — which he said was necessary to keep the country safe because courts are “slow and political!” The Department of Homeland Security has previously suggested such vetting was taking place, but that, too, seems to undercut the Justice Department’s legal position.

The travel ban was supposed to be a temporary measure, designed to afford the administration time to conduct a review and decide what new vetting procedures were necessary. When a federal judge in Hawaii ordered the ban frozen, though, the government interpreted his order as stopping even that review — and the judge declined to clarify that it did not.

Wall told the 4th Circuit last month that the administration had “put our pens down” and had “done nothing to review the vetting procedures for these countries.”

If the administration already has implemented new vetting procedures, that would seem to call into question the necessity of a temporary ban. Legal analysts, though, have previously said that president’s remarks indicate he might not view the measure as temporary — despite what the text of the executive order says.

SCOTUS sets June 12 deadline for travel ban challengers’ responses


Washington (CNN)Parties who are challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban have until June 12 to respond to a petition from the Justice Department asking the Supreme Court to allow the ban to go into effect, the court said Friday.

The Court set a deadline of June 12, which comes about two weeks before its term is scheduled to end.
Once the Supreme Court has heard from the challengers, it will decide whether it should allow the revised controversial executive order — that blocks entry from six Muslim-majority countries — to go into effect while the justices decide whether they should take up the government’s appeal.
To succeed, the Trump administration will need the votes of five justices. According to rules that govern the Supreme Court, the justices would take into consideration whether there is a “reasonable probability” that four of the justices would eventually agree to hear the case and a “fair prospect” that a majority of the court will hold that the lower court opinions were erroneous.
They’d also consider if “irreparable harm” would result from the denial of the request to lift the injunction.
There are two separate challenges before the court. One is brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project and other plaintiffs, who won a global injunction in March that was later upheld by a majority of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction applies to Section 2 (c) of the order that suspends entry of foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The federal appeals court ruled that the ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”
The other case was brought by the attorney general of Hawaii and other individuals who claimed the ban exceeds the President’s statutory authority and violates the Constitution. The plaintiffs are challenging not only Section 2 of the order — the restriction on travel — but another section of the order pertaining to refugees. On March 15, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the US District Court for the District of Hawaii issued an injunction blocking both sections. Watson, relying upon statements that the Trump made as a candidate for the presidency, held that the “stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is at the very least secondary to a religious objective of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims” in violation of the Constitution.
The case is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel heard arguments on May 15 and has yet to rule.
In asking the Supreme Court to allow the ban to go into effect, government lawyers accused the lower courts of undermining “the President’s constitutional and statutory power to protect national security.”

Appeals Court Will Not Reinstate Trump’s Revised Travel Ban

WASHINGTON — Describing President Trump’s revised travel ban as intolerant and discriminatory, a federal appeals court on Thursday rejected government efforts to limit travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim nations. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The decision was the first from a federal appeals court on the revised travel ban, which was an effort to make good on a campaign centerpiece of the president’s national security agenda. It echoed earlier skepticism by lower federal courts about the legal underpinnings for Mr. Trump’s executive order, which sought to halt travelers for up to 90 days while the government imposed stricter vetting processes.

The revised order, issued on March 6, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., concluded in its 205-page ruling.

The White House derided the court decision as a danger to the nation’s security. And Mr. Sessions, in pledging to appeal to the nation’s highest court, said the government “will continue to vigorously defend the power and duty of the executive branch to protect the people of this country from danger.”

At almost every turn since Mr. Trump ordered the travel ban — first in January, when it was halted by judicial objections, and again in March — federal courts have blocked it. Initially, the order suspended entry for travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and banned refugees from Syria.

The revised order sought to soften the original ban, which was almost immediately blocked after foreign travelers found themselves stranded at chaotic airports and protesters nationwide called the policy un-American. The second order allowed case-by-case exceptions for incoming travelers and lifted the ban against Iraqi visitors. It also deleted explicit references to religion.

But both orders suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days and reduced the annual number of refugees to 50,000 from 120,000. And in Thursday’s ruling, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory said Mr. Trump’s statements on the campaign trail — where he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” — showed that the revised order remained the product of religious hostility.

Such discrimination, Judge Gregory wrote for the majority, violates the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion. The Trump administration had urged the appeals court to ignore the statements as loose language made before the president assumed office. But Judge Gregory said the court could take account of the comments.

“Then-candidate Trump’s campaign statements reveal that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States,” Judge Gregory wrote.

The appeals court vote was 10 to 3 and divided along ideological lines, with the three Republican appointees in dissent. Two other judges, both appointed by Republican presidents, recused themselves.

In dissent, Judge Paul V. Niemeyer said that the majority had made a grave error in considering Mr. Trump’s political comments to interpret his executive orders, calling campaign statements ambiguous by nature and “often shorthand for larger ideas; they are explained, modified, retracted and amplified as they are repeated and as new circumstances and arguments arise.”

Judge Niemeyer also predicted that the majority’s reliance on campaign statements would meet a hostile reception in the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court surely will shudder at the majority’s adoption of this new rule that has no limits or bounds — one that transforms the majority’s criticisms of a candidate’s various campaign statements into a constitutional violation,” he wrote. And Judge Dennis W. Shedd, also in dissent, wrote that those welcoming Thursday’s decision had missed the larger point.

“Today’s decision may be celebrated by some as a victory for individual civil rights and justice, and by others as a political defeat for this president,” Judge Shedd wrote. “Yet, it is shortsighted to ignore the larger ramifications of this decision.

“Regrettably, at the end of the day, the real losers in this case are the millions of individual Americans whose security is threatened on a daily basis by those who seek to do us harm,” Judge Shedd wrote.

Omar Jadwat, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who argued the appeal on behalf of people and groups challenging the revised order, said the court’s decision vindicated fundamental rights.

“President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms,” he said. “The Constitution’s prohibition on actions disfavoring or condemning any religion is a fundamental protection for all of us, and we can all be glad that the court today rejected the government’s request to set that principle aside.”

Thursday’s decision came from the full Fourth Circuit, which did not follow its usual practices in considering the appeal. Ordinarily, a three-judge panel would have heard the case and decided it, with the possibility of full-court review afterward.

In his dissent, Judge Niemeyer wrote that the law did not permit judges to second-guess a president’s national security judgments.

But Judge Gregory wrote that courts had a role to play.

“Although the Supreme Court has certainly encouraged deference in our review of immigration matters that implicate national security interests,” he wrote, “it has not countenanced judicial abdication, especially where constitutional rights, values and principles are at stake.”

It was more than plausible, he added, that the revised order’s “stated national security interest was provided in bad faith, as a pretext for its religious purpose.”

“The government has repeatedly asked this court to ignore evidence, circumscribe our own review, and blindly defer to executive action, all in the name of the Constitution’s separation of powers,” Judge Gregory wrote.

“We decline to do so, not only because it is the particular province of the judicial branch to say what the law is, but also because we would do a disservice to our constitutional structure were we to let its mere invocation silence the call for meaningful judicial review.”

In March, federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii blocked parts of the new executive order, saying they could not ignore the remarks from Mr. Trump and his allies. “Simply because a decision maker made the statements during a campaign does not wipe them” from judicial memory, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of Federal District Court in Maryland wrote in the decision under review by the appeals court.

A second appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, heard arguments recently in an appeal of the Hawaii decision. That court is expected to rule shortly.

Mr. Trump issued his initial order on Jan. 27, a week into his presidency. Less than two weeks later, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed an order halting it.

Though Mr. Trump vowed to fight the ruling, he did not appeal to the Supreme Court. Instead, he issued a revised executive order. This time around, the administration will appeal, setting the stage for a major constitutional showdown.