US court set to hear arguments on Trump travel ban

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit building is seen February 6, 2017 in San Francisco, California.

A US federal appeals court will hear arguments on Tuesday over whether to restore President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the most controversial policy of his two-week old administration.

In a brief filed on Monday, the Justice Department said last week’s suspension of Trump’s order by a federal judge was too broad and “at most” should be limited to people who were already granted entry to the country and were temporarily abroad, or to those who want to leave and return to the United States.

That language did not appear in the government’s opening brief filed at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and could represent a softening of its position. Last Friday’s ruling by US District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspending the travel ban opened a window for people from the seven affected countries to enter.

The 9th Circuit in San Francisco on Monday asked lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota and the Justice Department to argue whether the ban should remain shelved. The court set oral argument for 3 pm PST (2300 GMT) on Tuesday. The case may ultimately reach the US Supreme Court.

Ten former US national security and foreign policy officials, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, filed a declaration in the court case arguing that the travel ban served no national security purposes. It was signed by former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and Michael Morell.

Over the weekend, the San Francisco court denied the administration’s request for an immediate suspension of the federal judge’s temporary restraining order that blocked the implementation of key parts of the travel ban while it considered the government’s request in full. The court did say it would consider the government’s request after receiving more information.


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