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Trump travel ban heading to Supreme Court

by Pete Williams /

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WASHINGTON — The Trump travel ban has a return engagement before the U.S. Supreme Court, after the justices said Friday they will take up the government's appeal of the latest version.

In December, the court telegraphed that it would likely hear the case when it allowed the government to enforce the travel ban while a new round of challenges were playing out in the lower courts. Only two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, expressed their dissents.

Like the previous versions, the latest form maintains limits on granting visas for travelers from five of the six countries from the original travel executive order — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — but lifts restrictions on visitors from Sudan and adds new limits on visitors and immigrants from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

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The Trump administration argues, however, that this version is different, because it was imposed only after the government surveyed more than 200 countries on their effectiveness in providing information about the backgrounds of visa applicants.

It determined that the handful of countries covered by the current travel ban "have deficient information-sharing practices or other factors that prevent the government from assessing the risk their nationals pose to the United States." The president exercised his authority to restrict their ability to come here, the government says.

But the challengers, led by the state of Hawaii, say the current version is infected with the same anti-Muslim bias that doomed the first two versions. Federal law prevents the president from banning travelers and immigrants based solely on their nationality, they say.

"No prior president has attempted to implement a policy that so baldly exceeds the statutory limits on the president's power," the challengers say in their court briefs.

The court will hear the case in April.

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