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White House Asks Supreme Court To Revive Travel Ban


President Trump is making good on his promise to take the legal fight over his revised travel ban to the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's remember lower courts have blocked the administration's temporary ban on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim nations. Late last night, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to let the travel ban go into effect. And I want to bring in NPR's Joel Rose, who has been following all this. Hey, Joel.


GREEN: So what exactly is this legal move here?

ROSE: So the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to step in immediately to lift the nationwide injunction that was issued by courts both in the East and in the West and to reinstate the temporary travel ban. This comes just a week after one appeals court, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Virginia, ruled against the administration. So the appeal itself is not that surprising, but the timing is pretty unusual.

GREEN: Yeah, unusual because it came so quickly after another court ruled?

ROSE: Well, unusual for a couple of reasons. I mean, unusual for one reason because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is hearing the case out of Hawaii, hasn't even ruled yet. I mean, remember, when President Trump signed this executive order, it was just a week into his presidency. There was chaos at airports until a judge in Seattle put the case on hold. The administration appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but they left that injunction in place.

The White House initially threatened to go to the Supreme Court then, but instead issued a revised version of the travel ban back in March. That's been put on hold now by judges in Hawaii and Maryland. The Maryland injunction was upheld last week in the 4th Circuit. And as I said, the Hawaii case is now before the 9th Circuit, but they haven't even ruled yet. And the Justice Department is already pushing the Supreme Court to take the case.

GREEN: God, this is a lot of states, a lot of different courts, a lot of different decisions. But has the government's argument fundamentally changed at all through all this?

ROSE: Not much. I mean, the Department of Justice lawyers are making roughly the same argument they've been making throughout, that the president has broad authority to protect national security and that this temporary ban is necessary in order to give the government time to evaluate its visa program and to keep the country safe. But critics have said that this executive order discriminates against Muslims, and they base their claim - their case on what Donald Trump and his aides have said during the presidential campaign and after. And so far, the courts have agreed, finding that this executive order is probably unconstitutional.

GREEN: Well, Joel, you see - you use the term immediately, that the Trump administration wants the Supreme Court to act immediately. I mean, could this really end up being very fast and we could have some final word on this ban?

ROSE: I mean, it's really hard to guess. We all know that the Supreme Court often splits 5 to 4 with conservatives in the majority. But who knows how much that will really matter in this case? The Supreme Court could take the case or not. And they may be inclined not to because the 9th Circuit Court hasn't even ruled yet on the appeal. So, you know, it's really hard to guess where this is going.

GREEN: All right. NPR's Joel Rose, thanks so much.

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

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.
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