The Trump administration on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive the president’s controversial executive order that intended to temporarily bar travel to the U.S. by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.
Lawyers at the Department of Justice filed two emergency applications with the nation’s highest court asking it to block two lower court rulings that effectively halted the implementation of his second travel ban, which also halted refugees seeking to enter the U.S. The filing asks for a stay of a ruling made last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and another stay of an injunction made by a judge in Hawaii.
The Justice Department has asked for expedited processing of the petitions so the court can hear the case when it begins a new session in October.
“We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the Nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. “The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”
The filing drew an almost immediate response from advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which pledged to fight the ban in court yet again.
Trump’s executive order, signed March 6, was the White House’s second travel ban attempt. It sought to bar citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. The watered-down order came after the bungled rollout of a similar ban, one that included Iraqis, which prompted nationwide protests and its own smack-down by a federal judge in Seattle.
In a 10-3 ruling last week, the 4th Circuit issued perhaps the biggest setback to the White House when a full panel of its judges refused to lift a nationwide injunction that halted key aspects of the revised ban.
U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote at the time that the order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute,” Gregory continued. “It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”
Any travel ban’s chances have been harmed by Trump’s own rhetoric on the campaign trail, when he promised to completely ban Muslims from entering the country. He later backed down on those statements, but several judges cited them as evidence that the White House was targeting members of a religious group, not from any specific countries.
In one ruling, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said the president’s “plainly worded statements” betrayed the ban’s “stated secular purpose.” U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang said Trump’s statements provided “a convincing case that the purpose of the second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban.”
Throughout the continued defeat in the courts, Trump and his administration have defiantly pledged to fight for the order and have denied the ban is intended to target members of the Islamic faith. After Watson ruled on the second order in Hawaii, the president called the decision “flawed” and slammed it as “unprecedented judicial overreach.”
“This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are,” Trump said.
At the time, he pledged to bring the fight to the Supreme Court, a call Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated last month.