Travel Ban 3.0, as its been referred to, bars entry from majority Muslim countries including Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Syria.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco opened with arguments on behalf of the Trump administration saying that the travel ban simply restricts access to countries which fail to give a baseline of information needed to vet their nationals.
“It omits the vast majority of the world including the vast majority of the Muslim world because they met the baseline. It now applies to only seven countries who fall below that baseline or had other problems and it exerts diplomatic pressure on those countries to provide needed information and to protect the country until they do.”, said Francisco.
Such baseline information include factors such as terrorist activity and criminal history.
to which Justice Sonya Sotomayor called to mind heightened restrictions already put in place by Congress to properly vet nationals seeking to emigrate from known terrorist countries.
“What I see the President doing here is saying, ‘I’m going to add more to the limits that congress set and to what congress said was enough’. Where does a president get the authority to do more than what congress has already said is adequate?”, said Justice Sotomayor.
Neal Katyal, representing Hawaii, argued that President Trump’s executive order is unlawful for three reasons. He said, “It conflicts with Congress’s policy choices. It defies the bar on nationality discrimination, something you never heard my friend talk about. And, it violates the first amendment.”
Katyal argued that instead of using a ban, Congress initiated an extra credit system of sorts for countries who failed to meet the baseline vetting requirements, giving such countries a faster track for admission if they cooperate.
Katyal also pointed to anti-Muslim videos previously tweeted out by President Trump to support his argument which were quickly challenged by Chief Justice John Roberts who asked, “If tomorrow, he issues a proclamation saying he’s disavowing all those statements then the next day he can re-enter this proclamation?”
To which Katyal replied, “That’s exactly what this court said in McCreary.”
While conservative justices appeared to side with the President, outside the Supreme Court, a three hour demonstration was underway calling for an end to the travel ban.
Ahmed Mohamed is an attorney with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) who said, “We want the supreme court to see the hatred and the bigotry and the White supremacy that is motivating this ban and to strike it and to rule it unconstitutional and to say, once and for all, no Muslim ban ever.”
The Supreme Court decided to allow this latest version of the travel ban to go into full effect in December, pending appeal.