After being ruled unconstitutional by several lower courts throughout the United States, the Supreme Court will start to hear the case against the Trump administration’s "Muslim ban" on Wednesday.
The Muslim ban - now in its third, but nearly same, iteration as the administration’s original implemented just days after being sworn in in January 2017 - seeks to block entry into the United States of most people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea. The case only takes into account those first six, Muslim-majority countries.
The state of Hawaii is accusing the Donald Trump administration of discriminating against Muslims with the ban, violating the constitution that prohibits the government from favoring, or disfavoring, a religion. Hawaii also says the severe travel restrictions violate immigration law.
Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Doug Chin told the press, "Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized."
Last October, Hawaii then Maryland banned Trump’s travel ban, but the Supreme Court later allowed the ban to continue until it could hear the case this month. The court expects to release its decision in June.
In court papers, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, arguing for the Trump administration, said the president has "broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens outside the United States when he deems it in the nation's interest."
He says this third ban, introduced September 24, was implemented after an "extensive, worldwide review" to determine which foreign governments provide information required by the United States to vet those seeking entry. The countries on the list are those that do not share that information or present "other heightened risk factors," Francisco said.
Hawaii is the lead plaintiff but the attorney generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, and the District of Columbia sent an amicus brief to the court earlier this month to support the 50th state’s federal case.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the brief said in a statement, "Since Day One, our coalition of attorneys general has been on the front lines of the fight against this unconstitutional, unlawful, and un-American ban.”
He added, "President Trump’s discriminatory ban both hurts the families caught up in the chaos of his draconian policies, and undermines our states’ residents, institutions, businesses, and economies."
Those watching the case are wondering if the judges will take into account Trump's anti-Islam campaign rhetoric and retweets of anti-Islam videos last fall.
"The court could get to the right outcome without getting into the question of his tweets. But I think the president set it up so that it's virtually impossible to ignore him when he's shouting from the rooftops about what his purpose was in the three versions of the ban," said Cecillia Wang, the American Civil Liberties Union's deputy legal director.