NO CHAOS: Matt Zapotosky Summarizes Supreme’s Travel Ban Decision — Former DOJ Immigration Litigator Leon Fresco Says Case Likely To Resolve Itself Before Argument In Fall!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/what-the-supreme-courts-travel-ban-ruling-means/2017/06/26/5e86e1cc-5a7e-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?utm_term=.13c35f5c2033

Zapotosky writes in the WashPost:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow portions of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect is a win for the administration, but the impact will be far less severe than President Trump’s initial version of the measure.

That is because the high court effectively allowed Trump to ban from coming to the United States only citizens of six majority-Muslim countries “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” It also nudged the president to complete his promised review of vetting procedures, which might mean the issue is resolved by the time the court is set to fully consider the ban in its October term.

For now, if you are not a U.S. citizen and have a relative here, have been hired by a U.S. employer or admitted to an American university, you can still probably get a visa. But if you’re applying cold as a visitor or through the diversity visa program, you probably can’t.

. . . .

The Supreme Court wrote that the government now should be able to do its work. “We fully expect that the relief we grant today will permit the Executive to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within the 90-day life of [the order],” the justices wrote.

The court said it would take up the travel ban fully in its October term; their ruling Monday only partially lifted lower courts’ stays on the measure. By that time, the 90-day period will have run, and Fresco said the administration will be pressed to come up with good reasons for imposing a ban.

“If there is not an answer to the question on the first day of oral arguments about why this ban is still in place, that is going to make the court much more skeptical about the government’s reasons for having this ban,” Fresco said.”

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Read the complete analysis at the link.

According to this analysis, the six Justices in the majority apparently have skillfully maneuvered the Trump Administration into a “put up or shut up” situation. They have alleviated the greatest hardships caused by the ban by allowing individuals with bona fide connections to the U.S. to continue to come. At the same time, they have pressured the Trump Administration into completing its “study” before Fall and lifting the “temporary ban,” thus largely mooting the case. As Fresco points out, if the Administration attempts to continue the ban after its scheduled expiration, they will likely have to come up with a much more convincing explanation that they have provided to date. Otherwise, the whole thing is going to look like a “pretext” for a blanket “Muslim ban,” which is what the plaintiffs have been arguing all along. Actually, sounds to me like the kind of practical solution that Chief Justice Roberts sometimes devises to avoid ugly showdowns between the three branches of Government. Interesting.

PWS

06-26-17

 

BREAKING: SUPREMES GRANT CERT., ALLOW TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN TO GO INTO EFFECT — WITH IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS — CASE DOCKETED FOR OCT. — MIGHT BE “MOOT” BY THEN!

Here’s the Court’s complete “per curiam” (unsigned) opinion with separate concurring and dissenting opinion by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, & Alito:

SCTravelBan16-1436_l6hc

The Supreme Court handed the Trump Administration at least a partial victory on the controversial “Travel Ban 2.0” which had been enjoined by the Ninth and Fourth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Court: 1) granted the petitions for certiorari filed by the Solicitor General in behalf of the Trump Administration and scheduled the case for Oral Argument at the beginning of the October 2017 Term; and 2) granted in part the Solicitor General’s request to stay the lower courts’ injunctions pending review.

However, in partially lifting the injunctions, the Court left in effect a significant  part of those injunctions: the Travel Ban may not be applied to a) “foreign nationals who have a [pre-existing] credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” and b) “an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The dissent would have stayed all parts of the lower courts’ injunctions. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch, criticized the majority for having cerated a non-statutory category of individuals who can “credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” He fears that the meaning of these exceptions will itself become a fertile ground of additional litigation before the Court can resolve the merits of these cases.

Additionally, the Court noted that since the bar on internal review of procedures relating to visa issuance was lifted on June 14, 2017, and the Government has represented that the review will be completed within 90 days, the case with respect to visa issuance to non-refugees might well be moot before the Court can get to the merits. The court instructs the parties to brief that issue.

“Quickie Analysis”

The Trump Administration can legitimately view this as a much-needed (from their standpoint) victory. All nine Justices appear to be prepared to rule that the Executive has virtually unbridled authority to bar the admission, at least temporarily, of foreign nationals with no connections to the United States.

It also appears that Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito would find that the Executive’s essentially unreviewable authority extends even to individuals who have a connection with the United States.

However, those challenging the Travel Ban have some reason to hope because at least six Justices seem to remain open to the possibility of engaging in some type of meaningful judicial review of Executive decisions regarding foreign nationals abroad who have established some connections to the U.S.

There may also be mootness issues with respect to some or all of the injunction with respect to refugee admissions. The new fiscal year for refugee admissions begins on October 1, 2017, before the Court will have heard argument in these cases. Before the beginning of the fiscal year, the Trump Administration must under the Refugee Act of 1980  “consult” with Congress on the number and allocation of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2018.  “Statutory consultation” was one of the things that the Trump Administration neglected to do before purporting to suspend refugee admissions and dramatically slash the number of fiscal year 2017 refugee admissions established by the Obama Administration after undertaking the required statutory consultation.

The lack of any reasonable rationale by the Trump Administration for reversing the  prior statutory determination made by the the Obama Administration after consultation with Congress was cited by the Ninth Circuit in upholding the original injunction. But, that issue should also be moot before the Court decides theses cases on the merits.

PWS

06-26-17

 

NEW FROM THE HILL: Nolan Rappaport Critiques Canada’s Refugee Stance!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/338561-trudeau-tweets-not-the-answer-to-canadas-refugee-issues?mobile_switch=standard

Nolan writes:

“The day after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban order, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a message to aliens “fleeing persecution, terror & war.” In addition to the inappropriateness of accusing the president of the United States of religious discrimination, his tweet made a promise that Canada will not be able to keep.

His tweet was an unqualified invitation to the 65.6 million aliens worldwide who have been displaced from their countries by conflict and persecution. Canada almost certainly will have to turn away many of the aliens who accept the invitation and come to Canada relying on it.

Some will be disqualified by Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, which requires asylum seekers to apply for asylum in the United States if they enter that country before entering Canada, with some exceptions.

Also, his invitation includes aliens who are fleeing terror and war, and despite their very real need for refuge, they are not likely to be able to establish eligibility for refugee status or asylum on that basis.  According to UNHCR figures, only 22.5 million of the 65.6 million displaced persons are refugees.

Trudeau’s tweet reminds me of President Jimmy Carter’s invitation to Cuban refugees when he was asked what the government was going to do about the Mariel Boat Lift. On April 20, 1980, Cuban President Fidel Castro announced that he would permit Cubans wishing to leave Cuba to go to the United States. Two weeks later, Carter said that the United States would “welcome the Cuban refugees with open arms and open hearts.”

But the boat lift was not limited to refugees. Castro forced the boat owners who participated in the boat lift to take approximately 8,000 criminals and hundreds of mentally-ill persons. The boat lift was a financial disaster for the ship owners. Despite Carter’s promise to welcome the Cuban refugees, his administration fined the boat owners $1,000 for each of the estimated 110,000 Mariel refugees they brought here in violation of section 273 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

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Read Nolan’s complete op-ed, which also contains a description of Canada’s Refugee Program, over on The Hill at the above link.

Several thoughts.  Most of the world’s refugees have no way of getting to Canada. Many victims of war an terror are, in fact, refugees under a proper application of Convention standards. Our “Safe Third Country Agreement” with Canada has very limited applicability. Also, regardless of the wisdom of accusing President Trump of religious discrimination, nearly all Federal Courts to consider the two Travel Bans to date have found that the President indeed had improper motives for imposing the ban, including religious discrimination.

Given Trump’s highly problematic attitude and actions towards refugees, I’d be hesitant to throw too many stones at other nations who are at least trying to show the spirit of generosity embodied in the U.N. Convention and Protocol. Wise or not, Trudeau’s heart is in the right place. That’s more than I can say for Trump.

PWS

06-20-17

THE HILL: Professor Andy Schoenholtz Of Georgetown Law On Why Americans Should Be Grateful To The 9th Circuit For Upholding The Rule Of Law Against Executive Overreach!

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/civil-rights/337955-9th-circuit-on-travel-ban-president-must-respect-congress

Professor Schoenholtz concludes:

“In fact, had the president focused on asking America’s civil servants to build on the progress achieved since 9/11 and try to find new ways of identifying security threats among those who seek visas, that work would have been accomplished by now, according to the schedule set by both the first and second EO’s.

If the Supreme Court decides at some point to hear a case regarding the EO, they will now be asked to consider not only whether the President has violated the Establishment Clause but also whether he has exceeded his statutory authority. As determined by the Supreme Court in the late nineteenth century, Congress has the constitutional authority to establish the immigration laws.

It has done just that by statute. The president has broad authority to implement that statutory system, but does the president have the power to stop admitting immigrants from six countries? From sixty? From all countries? Where does this end, and where would that leave Congress and the equilibrium established by the Constitution? We should thank the Ninth Circuit for raising that issue clearly and thoughtfully.

Andrew I. Schoenholtz is a Professor from Practice at Georgetown Law and the author, with Professors Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Philip G. Schrag, of “Lives in the Balance: Asylum Adjudication by the Department of Homeland Security.”

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Read Andy’s entire analysis at the link.

I’m still somewhat skeptical that the Supremes will take this case given the problems caused by the President’s out of court statements and tweets. Future Chief Executives likely will be more “Presidential” and act with more prudence and thoughtfulness. So, why take a case that hopefully will turn out to be more or less “sui generus?” If I were the Supremes, I would let the lower courts sort through this mess and make a complete record before approaching the legal questions. But, we’ll see.  Very soon!

PWS

06-19-17

BREAKING: Trump’s Travel Ban 2.0 Loses Again In 9th Circuit!

Here’s the text of the unanimous “per curium” decision by a panel consisting of Circuit Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould, & Richard A. Paez:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/12/us/politics/document-Read-the-Ninth-Court-of-Appeals-Ruling-on-Trump.html

And, here’s the related story in the NY Times, reported by Ronald Liptak:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/us/politics/trump-travel-ban-court-of-appeals.html

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This order was more or less expected by most legal observers. The 9th Circuit did lift the part of the District Court’s injunction preventing the President from directing an internal review of vetting procedures. Also interestingly, the 9th Circuit found that the President’s attempt to “cut” FY 2017 refugee admissions from 110,000 to 50,000 exceeded his authority, to a large extent because he failed to undertake the “advance consultation with Congress” required by the INA.

The Supreme Court presently is deciding whether or not to review a similar case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the injunction against Travel Ban 2.0.

The Ninth Circuit case is State of Hawaii v. Trump.

PWS

06-12-17

CNN: Sessions – Trump Rift Deepens — AG Offered To Resign — White House Declines “Vote Of Confidence”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/trump-and-sessions-have-had-heated-exchange/index.html

CNN reports:

“Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have had a series of heated exchanges in the last several weeks after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, a source close to Sessions told CNN Tuesday.

A senior administration official said that at one point, Sessions expressed he would be willing to resign if Trump no longer wanted him there.
The frustration comes at a critical juncture for Trump. Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify Thursday about his private discussions with Trump and the Russia investigation has lapped into the White House, with questions about the President’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether Trump has confidence in Sessions.
“I have not had a discussion with him about that,” Spicer said.
As of 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, the White House still was unable to say whether or not the President backs his attorney general, a White House official said. The official said they wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened when Kellyanne Conway said Trump had confidence in Flynn only to find out hours later that the national security adviser had been pushed out.
Sessions remains at the Justice Department, where a spokeswoman told CNN that he is not stepping down.”
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Read the complete article at the link.
Wow! Who would have thought that Jeff Sessions could be the first Cabinet casualty? Must say, I didn’t see this one coming! In recusing himself from the Russia probe, Sessions not only did the ethical thing, but also saved Trump from the firestorm that would have ensued had he continued to participate in the investigation.
Sessions is nutsos on most legal issues, but I have to give him credit for showing backbone and independence here. Sounds like he might be gone before the 4th of July, particularly if the Supremes turn down the Travel Ban case, which I think becomes more likely with each Trump escapade. I’d also guess that Rosenstein and Brand would follow him out the door, leaving the DOJ essentially leaderless at a critical time.

If Sessions can’t survive, who would want the AG job? And anyone who would take it, and was satisfactory to Trump, might well have problems getting confirmed, even with the GOP in charge.

Stay tuned.
PWS
06-07-17

NYT: Trump, Sessions Split Brewing? — Apparently The Donald Expected AG To Be Complete Toady — Unpleasantly Suprised With Independence!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/us/politics/trump-discontent-attorney-general-jeff-sessions.html?emc=edit_nn_20170606&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1&_r=0

Peter Baker & Maggie Haberman report:
“WASHINGTON — Few Republicans were quicker to embrace President Trump’s campaign last year than Jeff Sessions, and his reward was one of the most prestigious jobs in America. But more than four months into his presidency, Mr. Trump has grown sour on Mr. Sessions, now his attorney general, blaming him for various troubles that have plagued the White House.

The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump accused Mr. Sessions’s department of devising a “politically correct” version of the ban — as if the president had nothing to do with it.

In private, the president’s exasperation has been even sharper. He has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.

Behind-the-scenes frustration would not be unprecedented in the Oval Office. Other presidents have become estranged from the Justice Department over time, notably President Bill Clinton, who bristled at Attorney General Janet Reno’s decisions to authorize investigations into him and his administration, among other things. But Mr. Trump’s tweets on Monday made his feelings evident for all to see and raised questions about how he is managing his own administration.

“They wholly undercut the idea that there is some rational process behind the president’s decisions,” said Walter E. Dellinger, who served as acting solicitor general under Mr. Clinton. “I believe it is unprecedented for a president to publicly chastise his own Justice Department.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

I certainly never would have accused Trump of rationality.

It seems it doesn’t take much to go from hero to goat with Trump — another sign of an unbalanced mind at the helm of our country. I’ve been a frequent critic of Jeff Sessions for his anti-immigrant views, white nationalist associations, and totally “gonzo” views and actions on civil rights and immigration enforcement. But, it sounds like he has been trying to do the right thing in this situation and offering the President some wise counsel.  I guess there is no surer way of getting on Trump’s “hit list” than to act with some rationality and integrity.

It’s still a problem if Sessions isn’t able to control Trump’s public behavior in litigation. The head of a law firm can’t stand by and let a client, even the big one, publicly abuse and undermine his or her partners and associates.

In private practice, you sometimes have to “fire” an unruly client. In Government, you can’t fire the President, but you can “take a walk” and let folks know why you are doing it. Ultimately, Sessions (and Rosenstein, and probably Associate AG Rachel Brand) might have to decide whether to be loyal to the President or to the Department of Justice and the integrity of our justice system.

Shouldn’t really be much of a dilemma. After all, no politico expects to serve indefinitely, and each member of this trio should be readily employable in the private sector.

PWS

06-06-17

 

BREAKING: Out Of Control “Tweeter In Chief” Continues To Undermine Own Case! — Basically Admits Revised Order Was A Ruse!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/politics/trump-travel-ban-courts/index.html

CNN reports:

“(CNN)President Donald Trump on Monday emphatically referred to his executive order on immigration as a “travel ban” and said his Justice Department should not have submitted a “watered down, politically correct version” to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s suggestion that changes to the ban — which, among other things, temporarily restricts travel to the US from several Muslim-majority countries — were due to political correctness could hamper his administration’s legal argument that the executive order did not target Muslims. As a candidate, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the United States.
Trump's terror tweets make a statement
Trump’s terror tweets make a statement
In a string of tweets, Trump reiterated comments he made in light of the London terror attacks that the travel ban was necessary.
“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN,” he tweeted at 6:25 a.m. ET.
“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” he added.”

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Read the entire breaking story at the link!

Gotta feel for the pros in the SG’s Office trying to defend the Prez while maintaining some semblance of credibility with the Court. Talk about the “Client from Hell!”

Back to two “soft predictions” that I had made earlier.

Frist, every time Trump tweets or throws gratuitous barbs at the Court, the chances increase that the Supremes will leave this mess to the lower Courts to sort out. There are also some practical difficulties, since the “Travel Ban” was supposed to be temporary and will soon expire by its own terms. Why mess with this mess? As noted in a previous blog, even some in the GOP are starting to acknowledge the untenability of Trimp’s position on the Travel Ban.

Second, over the course of an Administration, the Solicitor General’s Office is likely to lose its hard-earned credibility with the Supremes by defending the off the wall actions of a serial liar. Yeah, the Supremes take up the cases of, and even rule in favor of, some pretty scuzzy individuals. But, lack of candor before the courts and attempting to “bully” the judiciary are strongly frowned upon. At some point, courts at all levels hold the attorney responsible for his or her client’s conduct.

And, it is a mark of Jeff Sessions’s unsuitability to be Attorney General that he can’t get his primary client “under control.”

PWS

06-05-17

Justice Gorsuch Thinks It’s Great That The “government can lose in its own courts.” — I Agree! — But, The Guy Who Appointed Him Might Not!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/gorsuch-stresses-rule-of-law-system-where-government-can-lose-in-its-own-courts/2017/06/03/6d85cdc4-487b-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?utm_term=.16cabc457759

Robert Barnes reports for the Washington Post:

“CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — With legal challenges to the Trump administration’s initiatives multiplying in federal courts, new Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch extolled the virtues of judicial independence and praised a legal system in which “government can lose in its own courts” Friday night.

It was the first public appearance off the bench for President Trump’s choice for the high court, who joined Justice Stephen G. Breyer at the Harvard Marshall Forum. Both are former Marshall scholars who did graduate work in the United Kingdom, and spoke at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of George C. Marshall’s plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.

The event was about as noncontroversial as it could be, even if one of the first questions to Gorsuch concerned a naked sex doll the future justice observed when he had tea with an Oxford dean.

Trump last week made good on his pledge to political opponents to “see you in the Supreme Court,” asking the justices to revive his plan to temporarily ban entry to citizens of six mostly Muslim countries. A string of judges and appeals courts have concluded the president’s executive orders have more to do with his campaign pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country than an immediate threat to the country’s security.

Trump has bitterly denounced those rulings, as well as a decision to stop his proposal to cut federal funds from cities that protect illegal immigrants. During the campaign, he criticized a federal judge who ruled against him in a suit involving his for-profit universities because he said the judge’s Mexican ancestry made him prejudiced.

Jeffrey Rosen, a legal scholar and writer who is also president of the National Constitution Center, did not ask Gorsuch and Breyer about those controversies or any matter before the court.

But Gorsuch and Breyer talked in broad terms about independence and respect for the judicial branch’s decisions.

Gorsuch said he is grateful for the tradition that “judges can safely decide the law according to their conscience, without fear of reprisal.”

It is a remarkable thing, he said, “that government can lose, in its own courts, and accept the judgment of those courts without an army to back up the judgments. Just nine old people in polyester black robes that we have to buy at the uniform supply store…that is a heritage that is very special.”

As he did at his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch downplayed divisive decisions and stressed unanimity and acceptance of court’s decisions. Only about 5 percent of cases are appealed, he said, and “our court” accepts only 80 or so a year, a relative handful.

“Nine justices appointed by six presidents over a 30-year period,” Gorsuch said. “And we’re unanimous about 40 percent of the time.”

Of course, it is the closely divided cases at the appeals courts and the Supreme Court that are its most important. But Gorsuch and Breyer stressed the independence judges have to make controversial decisions.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Even today, in the wake of tragedy in London, Trump couldn’t resist an inappropriate tweet taking a cheap shot at the U.S. Courts. Nor could he stop himself from trying to promote panic and throwing darts at the Mayor of London. He’s certainly the embodiment of the “Ugly American.”

One of the major differences between the U.S. and the many countries I dealt with on a daily basis over the past 21 years in various courts is the true independence of the Article III judiciary in the U.S.

By contrast, Trump’s demeanor, behavior, temperament, and the folks he surrounds himself with are very reminiscent of third-world dictators.

PWS

06-04-17

 

 

Gee Whiz, Where Are The Emperor’s Clothes? Even Some In GOP Starting To Admit That Trump’s Travel Ban Is Bogus!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/new-opposition-emerges-as-trump-pushes-for-travel-ban/2017/06/04/5914e7fa-4973-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.55a8e530861c

Paige Winfield Cunningham reports in the Washington Post:

“As President Trump renewed his push Sunday for a travel ban in the wake of another terrorist attack in England, new opposition emerged from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Several lawmakers suggested in TV interviews Sunday that Trump’s proposed ban, which blocked immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries but was halted by federal courts, is no longer necessary since the administration has had the time it claimed it needed to develop beefed-up vetting procedures to screen people coming to the United States.

“It’s been four months since I said they needed four months to put that in place,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think you can do that without a travel ban and hopefully we are.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the panel, said Trump’s administration has had plenty of time at this point to examine how immigrants are let into the United States and make any improvements that are needed. “If the president wanted 90 days to re-examine how individuals from certain countries would enter the United States, he’s had more than 90 days,” Warner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

. . . .

“The enhanced procedures would be in place by the beginning of October,” said Mark Tushnet, a law professor at Harvard University. “By that time, the travel ban would not be in effect.”

As more time goes by with no appearance of effort toward stronger vetting, it could undermine the administration’s legal justification for a temporary travel ban.

“I think the travel ban is too broad, and that is why it’s been rejected by the courts,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Sunday on Face the Nation. “The president is right, however, that we need to do a better job of vetting individuals who are coming from war-torn countries into our nation . . . but I do believe that the very broad ban that he has proposed is not the right way to go.”

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Read the complete story at the above link.

Actually, it’s always been about power, and factors unrelated to national security. That being said, the State Department reportedly has beefed up visa vetting at some embassies over the past several months. That’s all they needed to do in the first place. But, from a Trump standpoint, that wouldn’t have been a sufficient show of unbridled power and wouldn’t ‘t have helped whip up a frenzy of anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, and anti-immigrant furor to please “the base.”

PWS

06-04-17

 

NOT YOUR FATHER’S FOURTH CIRCUIT: Technology, Innovation, & A More Diverse Judiciary Change Tribunal Sitting In The Former Capital Of The Confederacy!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/after-a-ruling-on-trumps-travel-ban-all-eyes-are-on-the-4th-circuit/2017/06/02/b7a555f2-4545-11e7-bcde-624ad94170ab_story.html?utm_term=.825d55d2e2d7

Carl Tobias reports for the Washington Post.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a court in transition. The Richmond-based appeals court was long considered the most ideologically conservative of the 12 regional circuits, the intermediate appellate tribunals across the country that are the courts of last resort for 99 percent of appeals. When a case heard in Maryland and Virginia federal district courts is appealed, it goes to the 4th Circuit. This is the court that has resolved appeals involving Maryland gun laws and Virginia transgender students’ rights, for example.

And change has come to the 4th Circuit.

This was recently on display when the entire court — all judges in active service who did not have conflicts of interest — substantially affirmed a Maryland district court’s nationwide injunction that blocked enforcement of President Trump’s revised travel ban. Notably, a majority of the judges proclaimed that the Constitution “protects Plaintiffs’ right to challenge the Executive Order that in text speaks in vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

For decades, the 4th Circuit was a conservative stronghold. Seated in the former capital of the Confederacy, the court hears appeals in the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse, a building that served as the official headquarters for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The circuit retains Southern manners. For instance, judges descend from the bench after oral arguments to shake the hands of counsel.

President George W. Bush tried to continue the court’s conservative legacy when numerous vacancies materialized in his administration. However, the White House insisted on pressing for confirmation of nominees whom many Democratic senators considered outside the mainstream, even after Democrats had captured a Senate majority in November 2006. Political machinations left four vacancies at the Bush administration’s close, enabling President Barack Obama to appoint numerous judges. The court now has nine members whom Democratic presidents appointed, five whom Republican presidents confirmed and Chief Judge Roger Gregory, whom President Bill Clinton recess-appointed and Bush confirmed.

Two recent developments in the travel ban appeal demonstrate change in the court. First, all of the active judges without conflicts heard the appeal, called an initial en banc proceeding, which is so extraordinary that the last one was decades ago. One judge, not the parties, suggested this procedure, and the court requested the litigants’ views on an en banc process, while a circuit majority favored it apparently because of the appeal’s exceptional public importance.

Another sign of change was the court’s April 27 announcement that the argument would be livestreamed. Allowing “cameras in the courtroom” has proved extremely controversial at the Supreme Court, which has never permitted live broadcast of arguments. Indeed, since-retired Justice David Souter famously declared “over my dead body.” A few lower federal courts allow broadcasts. The 9th Circuit began livestreaming all oral arguments in 2015.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

As a U.S. Immigration Judge sitting in the Fourth Circuit, I credited the Fourth Circuit’s carefully-crafted asylum jurisprudence and overriding concern for due process and fairness for asylum seekers as reasons why asylum grant rates were relatively high in the Arlington and Baltimore Immigration Courts (of course, along with my judicial colleagues’ careful attention the what the Fourth Circuit was saying; new Fourth Circuit rulings were a frequent topic of our lunch conversations.)

Apparently, however, the word didn’t reach as far south as the Charlotte Immigration Court, where advocates regularly complain of the rights of asylum seekers being “steamrolled.” To date, the BIA has failed to step in and fix the Charlotte situation. And, I wouldn’t expect it to happen with Jeff Sessions in charge of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

PWS

06-04-17

HuffPost: Trump Calls On Supremes For Help On Travel Ban 2.0!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-travel-ban-supreme-court_us_5930da0ae4b0c242ca229563

Nick Visser reports:

“The Trump administration on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive the president’s controversial executive order that intended to temporarily bar travel to the U.S. by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.

Lawyers at the Department of Justice filed two emergency applications with the nation’s highest court asking it to block two lower court rulings that effectively halted the implementation of his second travel ban, which also halted refugees seeking to enter the U.S. The filing asks for a stay of a ruling made last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and another stay of an injunction made by a judge in Hawaii.

The Justice Department has asked for expedited processing of the petitions so the court can hear the case when it begins a new session in October.

“We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the Nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. “The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

The filing drew an almost immediate response from advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which pledged to fight the ban in court yet again.
Trump’s executive order, signed March 6, was the White House’s second travel ban attempt. It sought to bar citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. The watered-down order came after the bungled rollout of a similar ban, one that included Iraqis, which prompted nationwide protests and its own smack-down by a federal judge in Seattle.

In a 10-3 ruling last week, the 4th Circuit issued perhaps the biggest setback to the White House when a full panel of its judges refused to lift a nationwide injunction that halted key aspects of the revised ban.

U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote at the time that the order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute,” Gregory continued. “It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”

Any travel ban’s chances have been harmed by Trump’s own rhetoric on the campaign trail, when he promised to completely ban Muslims from entering the country. He later backed down on those statements, but several judges cited them as evidence that the White House was targeting members of a religious group, not from any specific countries.

In one ruling, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said the president’s “plainly worded statements” betrayed the ban’s “stated secular purpose.” U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang said Trump’s statements provided “a convincing case that the purpose of the second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban.”

Throughout the continued defeat in the courts, Trump and his administration have defiantly pledged to fight for the order and have denied the ban is intended to target members of the Islamic faith. After Watson ruled on the second order in Hawaii, the president called the decision “flawed” and slammed it as “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

“This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are,” Trump said.

At the time, he pledged to bring the fight to the Supreme Court, a call Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated last month.”

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Most experts believe that the Administration has a reasonable chance of prevailing if the Court takes the case. But, I’m not sure that heaping intemperate insults on U.S. trial and appellate judges, and then asking the top U.S. judges to invoke emergency procedures to bail you out of difficulties caused to a large extent by your own inflammatory rhetoric is necessarily a winning litigation strategy. We’ll soon see how this plays out. Because the Court’s term concludes at the end of this month, expect a decision on the Government’s emergency requests by then. Even if the Court agrees to take the case, it’s unlikely that arguments on the merits will be heard until the beginning of the 2017 Term next Fall.

Thanks to Nolan Rappaport for sending me this link.

PWS

06-02-17

Noah Feldman In Bloomberg View: 4th Circuit’s Stunning Rebuke Of Trump — Court Basically Calls Prez A Liar!

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-25/court-essentially-says-trump-lied-about-travel-ban

Feldman writes:

“In a remarkable 10-to-3 decision, a federal appeals court on Thursday affirmed the freeze on the second iteration of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration from six majority Muslim countries. The court said that national security “is not the true reason” for the order, despite Trump’s insistence to the contrary. It’s extraordinary for a federal court to tell the president directly that he’s lying; I certainly can’t think of any other examples in my lifetime.

The decision and the breakdown of the judges voting against the ban — which includes Republican appointees — presages defeat for the executive order in the U.S. Supreme Court, should the Trump administration decide to seek review there. Faced with this degree of repudiation from the federal judiciary, Trump would be well advised not to go to the Supreme Court at all.

The decision for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was written by Chief Judge Roger Gregory, who has the distinction of having been appointed to the court first by Bill Clinton, in a recess appointment that would have expired, and then by George W. Bush — a reminder of bipartisanship in the judicial nomination process that seems almost inconceivable today.

Gregory’s opinion had three basic parts, of which the middle one was the most important.

First, Gregory found that the plaintiffs in the case had standing to challenge the executive order as a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. He pointed out that under the “endorsement test” first offered by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the establishment clause is violated when the government sends a message to some people that they are insiders, favored members of the political community, or a message to others that they are outsiders, disfavored as citizens.

In O’Connor’s analysis, feelings count. As the 4th Circuit put it in the passage quoted by Gregory, “feelings of marginalization and exclusion are cognizable forms of injury” under the endorsement test. Thus, Muslim plaintiffs who alleged that they experienced a sense of exclusion and harm have the constitutional right to bring a lawsuit. 1

Although the 4th Circuit dissenters objected plausibly that this reliance on emotional experience would allow anyone “who develops negative feelings” to bring an establishment clause case, their objection isn’t really to Gregory’s reasoning, but to the endorsement test itself. And that’s part of constitutional doctrine.

That led Gregory to the heart of his opinion — and the condemnation of Trump as a liar. The strongest legal argument available to the Trump administration was based on a 1972 Supreme Court case called Kleindienst v. Mandel.

In the Mandel case, immigration authorities denied a visa to a Belgian Marxist who had been invited to give lectures in the U.S. The professors who invited him argued that his exclusion violated the freedom of speech.

The Supreme Court denied the claim, stating that when the executive branch excludes a noncitizen from the country “on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason,” the courts would not “look behind the exercise of that discretion.” That holding looked pretty good for the Trump executive order, which on its face asserts a national security interest in denying visas to people from the six majority Muslim countries.

Here’s where the opinion got personal. Gregory acknowledged that the executive order was “facially legitimate.” But, he said, “bona fide” literally means “in good faith.”

And here, he reasoned, the plaintiffs had provided “ample evidence that national security is not the true reason” for the order. That evidence, the court said, came mostly from Trump himself, in the form of his “numerous campaign statements expressing animus towards the Islamic faith.”

This was really the punchline of the opinion: Trump’s own statements show that he lied when he said the purpose of the executive order was national security. Once that conclusion was on the table, Gregory easily went on to show that such animus violated the establishment clause by sending a message to Muslims that they are outsiders in the political community.

One other George W. Bush nominee, Judge Allyson Duncan, joined the opinion. The three dissents came from Judge Paul Niemeyer, appointed by George H.W. Bush, and two court’s two other George W. Bush nominees. Thus, the breakdown was mostly partisan.

As a result, it’s plausible that Trump might get a few votes for the executive order at the Supreme Court. But he isn’t going to win. Justice Anthony Kennedy will be moved by the argument that the executive order was adopted in bad faith. And even conservative Justice Samuel Alito is likely to be unsympathetic, given his strong record as a defender of religious liberty.
Trump’s lawyers should be telling him right now that it would be a mistake for him to seek Supreme Court review. Not only is he likely to lose, he is likely to lose in a way that undermines his legitimacy and credibility. But it’s doubtful whether he will listen. If Trump had been listening to his lawyers, he wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in now, where the judiciary is telling him to his face that he has bad faith.”

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I’m not even sure the Supremes will take this case.

First, it’s in an odd procedural posture of a preliminary injunction. No trial has ever been held.

Second, the “urgency” — which was fake anyway — clearly doesn’t exist.

Third, there is no Circuit split that needs to be resolved.

On the other hand, it is an interesting constitutional/separation of powers issue, and the Court is now back to “full strength.”

Trump and Sessions would be well advised at this point to heed the advice of the “Supreme Court pros” in the Solicitor General’s Office. But, based on performance to date, that’s unlikely to happen.

PWS

05-25-17

BREAKING: 4th Circuit Slams Travel Ban — Losses Continue To Pile Up For Trump — Majority Finds Trump Acted In Bad Faith!

Here’s a key excerpt from the majority opinion by Chief Judge Gregory:

“As we previously determined, the Government’s asserted national security interest in enforcing Section 2(c) appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country. We remain unconvinced that Section 2(c) has more to do with national security than it does with effectuating the President’s promised Muslim ban. We do not discount that EO-2 may have some national security purpose, nor do we disclaim that the injunction may have some impact on the Government. But our inquiry, whether for determining Section 2(c)’s primary purpose or for weighing the harm to the parties, is one of balance, and on balance, we cannot say that the Government’s asserted national security interest outweighs the competing harm to Plaintiffs of the likely Establishment Clause violation.

For similar reasons, we find that the public interest counsels in favor of upholding the preliminary injunction. As this and other courts have recognized, upholding the Constitution undeniably promotes the public interest. Giovani Carandola, 303 F.3d at 521 (“[U]pholding constitutional rights surely serves the public interest.”); see also Melendres v. Arpaio, 695 F.3d 990, 1002 (9th Cir. 2012) (“[I]t is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party’s constitutional rights.” (quoting Sammartano v. First Jud. Dist. Ct., 303 F.3d 959, 974 (9th Cir. 2002))); Dayton Area Visually Impaired Pers., Inc. v. Fisher, 70 F.3d 1474, 1490 (6th Cir. 1995) (“[T]he public as a whole has a significant interest in ensuring…protection of First Amendment liberties.”). These cases recognize that when we protect the constitutional rights of the few, it inures to the benefit of all. And even more so here, where the constitutional violation injures Plaintiffs and in the process permeates and ripples across entire religious groups, communities, and society at large.

When the government chooses sides on religious issues, the “inevitable result” is “hatred, disrespect and even contempt” towards those who fall on the wrong side of the line. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 431 (1962). Improper government involvement with religion “tends to destroy government and to degrade religion,” id., encourage persecution of religious minorities and nonbelievers, and foster hostility and division in our pluralistic society. The risk of these harms is particularly acute here, where from the highest elected office in the nation has come an Executive Order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group. “The fullest realization of true religious liberty requires that government neither engage in nor compel religious practices, that it effect no favoritism among sects or between religion and nonreligion, and that it work deterrence of no religious belief.” Sch. Dist. of Abington Twp. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Goldberg, J. concurring). We therefore conclude that enjoining Section 2(c) promotes the public interest of the highest order. And because Plaintiffs have satisfied all the requirements for securing a preliminary injunction, we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining Section 2(c) of EO-2.”

Here’s the Court’s entire 205-page opinion including separate opinions:http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/171351.P.pdf

Judges Agee, Niemeyer, and Shedd dissented.

PWS

05-25-17

 

9th Cir. Panel Grills Both Sides In Travel Ban 2.0 Case!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/another-appeals-court-to-weigh-trumps-revised-travel-ban/2017/05/15/5f188d56-3946-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html?utm_term=.038612a73dbd

Gene Johnson for AP reported in the Washington Post:

“SEATTLE — Federal judges on Monday peppered a lawyer for President Donald Trump with questions about whether the administration’s travel ban discriminates against Muslims and zeroed in on the president’s campaign statements, the second time in a week the rhetoric has faced judicial scrutiny.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, defending the travel ban, told the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the executive order should be reinstated because it falls well within the president’s authority.

“No one has ever attempted to set aside a law that is neutral on its face and neutral in its operation on the basis of largely campaign trail comments made by a private citizen running for office,” he said.

Further, Wall said the president had backed off the comments he made during the campaign, clarifying that “what he was talking about was Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that sponsor or shelter them.”

Neal Katyal, who represented Hawaii, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, expressed disbelief at that argument and said Trump had repeatedly spoken of a Muslim ban during the presidential campaign and after.

“This is a repeated pattern of the president,” Katyal said.

The 9th Circuit panel was hearing arguments over Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging the travel ban, which would suspend the nation’s refugee program and temporarily bar new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The judges will decide whether to uphold a Hawaii judge’s decision in March that blocked the ban.

Last week, judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether to affirm a Maryland judge’s decision putting the ban on ice. They also questioned whether they could consider Trump’s campaign statements, with one judge asking if there was anything other than “willful blindness” that would prevent them from doing so.

Dozens of advocates for refugees and immigrants rallied outside the federal courthouse in Seattle, some carrying “No Ban, No Wall” signs.”

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Read the entire article at the link. Challenges to District Court orders enjoining parts of “Travel Ban 2.0” are pending on both coasts — in the 9th Circuit and the 4th Circuit. stay tuned!

PWS

05-16-17