President Donald Trump believes that Muslims in the US are great Americans who love the country and that Islam is "one of the great countries of the world", according to Department of Justice Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
Lower courts again blocked Version 3.0, but the administration has successfully brought its appeal to the highest court, persuading the court to allow implementation while it reviews the case.
He also questioned whether there was an impending security threat that would require a "flat nationality ban", noting that the president has made no moves to introduce legislation or get congressional backing for his ban in the almost 460 days since signing it.
"Let me say first that hate has no place here and the Muslim ban is unconstitutional", Jayapal said at a protest outside the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court on December 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted on a 7-2 vote his administration's request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
Kennedy pressed on that point.
"The benefit of having a president who speaks his mind is that you don't have to guess at his intentions", Joshua Lipshutz, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, the law firm that filed a brief to the court on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Newsweek. A final decision is expected at the end of June.
Fellow conservative Roberts questioned whether the president could be restricted from taking action on foreign policy emergencies, such as the civil war in Syria, if he is prevented from targeting specific countries. Associated Press/Jessica Gresko Even Justice Anthony Kennedy - who is often considered the swing vote in cases otherwise split along partisan lines - appeared skeptical of the government's argument.
Arguments for and against the ban fall along two axis, according to Vox.
The third version of the executive order, signed in September, bars travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela (some government officials) and North Korea. However, this is the only one of the three orders to be come up for full review by the Supreme Court, and the Justices energetically debated what Congress may - or may not - have done to give the President the authority he is claiming.
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"Absolutely not", Katyal replied, adding, after a reference to a statute at play in the case, "I don't think there's any immigration issue in your hypothetical".
"Do you want the president to say: 'I'm convinced in 6 months we will have a safe world?'" he said in a sarcastic rejoinder. "This is not a so-called 'Muslim ban.' If it were, it would be the most ineffective Muslim ban that one could possibly imagine", because it excludes the vast majority of the Muslim world, he said.
The justices struggled to determine whether the President's statements towards Muslims on the campaign trail were relevant to the case or qualified as animus.
But Kennedy also joined the court's more liberal justices in wondering how the president's campaign statements against Muslims might infect his policies.
"If you accept this order, you're giving this president the power no president in 100 years has exercised", Katyal said.
One of Trump's major campaign promises was to fight bad immigration policies; and he has proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, targetting illegal immigrants for deportation, and limiting legal immigration.
"This is an out-of-the-box kind of president in my hypothetical", Kagan said pointedly, drawing laughter from the usually somber court audience.
Anticipating the interest in the case, the court announced in mid-April that it would make the audio of the oral argument available shortly after the court session was over instead of at the end of the week when audios are normally released. We've beaten back Trump's repeated attempts to enshrine bigotry into policy, and every step of the way the courts have been with us.
"If you look at what was done, it does not look at all like a Muslim ban", Alito said. A sixth majority-Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list this month after improving "its identity-management and information sharing practices", Trump said in a proclamation. Plaintiffs who live in Hawaii sued, contending the travel ban was illegal, but "third parties can't vindicate the rights of aliens", Gorsuch said.
Sotomayor also questioned whether the president was extending his power beyond what was granted to the executive branch by Congress, which she noted already had stringent vetting requirements for people coming into the US from troubled countries.