One of the first major achievements of President Trump’s young presidency was the addition of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, filling the vacancy left by the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia. The pick was widely praised by conservatives and will now be an important factor as Trump’s travel ban will soon head to the nation’s highest court.
As Fox News reports, oral arguments on the travel ban will begin on Wednesday and will finally put to rest the controversy surrounding the ban. President Trump has sought to implement the travel ban three times, each of which was contested and struck down by federal courts.
Per Fox News:
All eyes are on Justice Neil Gorsuch as a major constitutional challenge to one of President Trump’s most controversial initiatives — the so-called travel ban — comes before the Supreme Court.
The case will be the first significant legal test so far of the president’s administration and could lead to a precedent-setting ruling on the limits of executive power, especially within the immigration context.
“This is a very difficult issue for the Supreme Court,” said Thomas Dupree, a former top Bush Justice Department official. “In many ways, it’s a political judgment — who is allowed into this country — and historically the court has been very reluctant to tread into areas where it could be viewed as making a political judgment that is properly confined to the executive.”
While Gorsuch is expected to be a conservative voice on the nation’s highest court, he did surprise some of his supporters with a decision last week. Gorsuch argued an immigration law, which prioritizes deporting immigrants with criminal history of violent crimes, was too vaguely written and thus allowed a convicted criminal of multiple burglaries (in which no persons were physically harmed) to remain in the country.
Several people who say the decision restricted federal immigration enforcement will want to see a change of course for Gorsuch. Per the report:
Attention on Gorsuch is heightened after a surprise ruling last week. Trump’s appointee to the high court has been a reliable conservative in his first year on the bench, but last week ruled against the administration in a separate immigration case involving government efforts to deport foreigners convicted of serious crimes in the U.S.
Gorsuch in that dispute sided with the court’s four more liberal members, the first time that has happened in his tenure on the job. He has given no indication how he would vote in the travel ban issue.
Federal appeals courts in Virginia and California in recent months had ruled against the administration. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit court last December concluded Trump’s proclamation, like the two previous executive orders, overstepped his powers to regulate the entry of aliens.
It “fails to provide a rationale explaining why permitting entry of nationals from the six designated countries under current protocols would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” wrote the appeals judges.
The Trump administration argues their authority to restrict immigration rests squarely within a 1952 federal law, the Immigration and Nationality Act. The legislation passed amid the Cold War as people began to fear Communist intrusion and influence.
As Fox News reports, the law reads in part: “Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may, may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
Some others similarly argue the court should make a more conservative ruling, “If you don’t like the policy prescriptions of a president, you vote him out of office. It is not the judiciary’s role to look behind the executive order,” said Gayle Trotter, a Washington attorney and columnist. “He has the authority, particularly in this area where his powers are at the height under the Constitution.”