Trump administration asks Supreme Court to immediately unfreeze travel ban for 6 Muslim nations

The Supreme Court
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Late Thursday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of its ban against all refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, and to allow the ban to take effect while it considers the appeal. President Trump's second executive order — he withdrew the first after it was blocked in court — has been stayed by both a federal judge in Hawaii and by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in May that Trump's order "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination" and is "intended to bar Muslims from this country."

The Justice Department is arguing to the Supreme Court that the lower courts erred in taking into consideration Trump's vow, as a candidate, to ban Muslims from the U.S., saying that he has now sworn to uphold the Constitution so his campaign statements don't count. "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," says Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.

If the ban takes effect, it would bar visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days and all U.S. refugees for 120 days, to give immigration officials time to see if there are serious flaws in the visa program. Trump has now been in office for 132 days. Asking for an immediate unfreezing of the ban is "an interesting procedural move, but the fact that it's taken this long may undermine, at least to some extent, the Trump administration's core argument that the entry ban, which has never gone into full effect, is essential to protect our national security," University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck tells CNN. "While it seems likely that the court will eventually hear the government's challenge, the real question now is what happens in the interim."

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It would take five justices to agree to allow Trump's travel ban to take effect, and the high court will likely hear arguments in the fall. "The temporary nature of the bans means they could well have run their course by the time the case is ready to be argued," The Associated Press says. But "if at least five justices vote to let the travel ban take effect, there's a good chance they also would uphold the policy later on."

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