President Donald Trump’s administration reiterated arguments defending its temporary travel ban in a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, repeatedly citing the executive’s broad powers to exclude foreigners from the United States.
The travel ban barring refugees and people from six Muslim-majority nations was signed as an executive order in March, after an earlier version had to be scrapped in the face of legal challenges.
Two federal appeals courts blocked the revised order from taking effect until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June it could move forward on a limited basis.
The nation’s highest court has agreed to hear oral arguments about the lawfulness of the ban on Oct. 10, and the brief laid out the legal position the government plans to make.
The state of Hawaii and refugee organizations challenging the executive order claim it is discriminatory against Muslims, citing statements Trump made on the campaign trail calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
However, the government, hammering against a broad ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that blocked the ban, said campaign statements made by the president when he was a private citizen should not be taken into account.
The brief said it was a mistake to probe the president’s motives in decisions about national security, which would amount to inappropriate “judicial psychoanalysis” of the president. Trump said the order was necessary to review vetting procedures to help protect the country from terrorist attacks.
The Department of Justice argued the case would “invite impermissible intrusion on privileged internal Executive Branch deliberations” and that the plaintiffs in the case were calling for “up to 30 depositions of White House staff and Cabinet-level officials.”
The government repeated its stance that Congress has granted the president wide authority to limit refugee admissions and bar the entry of any foreigner or group of foreigners if it would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
The Supreme Court ruled parts of the revised March executive order could go into effect on June 29, finding that anyone from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with a “bona fide relationship” to a U.S. citizen or entity could not be barred.
However, the government excluded grandparents and other family members from the definition of who would be allowed in, leading to another round of legal sparring.
Eventually the Supreme Court said that, while litigation continues over enforcement of the ban in lower courts, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings-in-law of people from the six countries would be let in but that refugees with relationships with U.S. resettlement agencies would not.
Attorney Neal Katyal, who is representing Hawaii in its challenge to the ban, said in an email on Thursday: “We look forward to the Supreme Court hearing our case in October.”
(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Paul Tait)
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