Strategic observation

Spotlight: U.S. Supreme Court mulls Trump's travel ban, but decision remains unknown

2017-06-18 05:56:42 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the fate of President Donald Trump's travel ban. But it remains unknown what the outcome will be.

Just six weeks after coming into office, Trump signed an executive order in March that would ban citizens of six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for a period of 90 days. The Trump administration says it needs the 90-day window to better ascertain the supposed terror threat coming from these nations. The countries in question are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - countries that were initially cited by the former Obama administration as "countries of concern."

Critics of the ban call it unconstitutional, while supporters say the White House and Congress should be, by law, deciding national security policy, not the courts.

On Monday Trump's ban lost a battle in the 9th circuit court, and the executive order is now being weighed by the Supreme Court, which has the final say on whether Trump's ban is constitutional.

Some experts said that, based on history, there's a high likelihood that the lower court ruling will be overturned, and that the Supreme Court will rule in Trump's favor.

One reason is because the 9th circuit court has had a large percentage of its rulings overturned.

Critics said it's one of the nation's most liberal courts, and noted that it is heavily laden with judges appointed by former President Bill Clinton, a liberal Democrat. Critics have blasted that court's judges for, they allege, acting more as activists rather than sticking to their duty of upholding the law.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua the Supreme Court's decision will be very close, and will rest on the most moderate judge in the court, Anthony Kennedy.

"The question you have to ask yourself is, if this executive order went through under (former) President Obama...would it pass muster? A lot of people in the legal community think it might," O'Connell said, speaking of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Hans von Spakovsky, a legal expert at the Heritage Foundation, told Xinhua: "it is my opinion that the three 9th Circuit judges - all appointed by Bill Clinton - who issued the decision, were acting as advocates, not judges."

"They failed to follow prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions that upheld the authority of the president to suspend the entry of any aliens into the country. They didn't even follow prior decisions of the 9th Circuit on this same issue," he said.

When asked how he thought the Supreme Court will rule on the issue, he said: "If the justices of the Supreme Court follow their own prior rulings, then they will overturn the 9th Circuit and rule in favor of the president and the government," he said.

"I hope they will put the law ahead of their politics," he said.

Trump's proposed travel ban comes at a time when terrorism is on the rise in developed countries, having risen 200 percent since 2013, according to a report released earlier this month.

The Global Terrorism Index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace, found that since 2007, deaths related to terror attacks have jumped by over 900 percent in OECD nations.

O'Connell said what's been frustrating for the Trump administration is that "they want to use all tools necessary to stop a threat that appears to be metastasizing around the world, and essentially what the Democrats are saying is 'well, we should just continue with our course of action.'"

Many Americans do not favor the ban, despite the support from Trump's base, and some experts said there is a disconnect between Trump's anti-terrorism policies and the actual threat. They say that many terrorism attacks or attempted attacks have come from people already living inside the United States.

One example is the Orlando, Florida shooter who last year opened fire inside a gay nightclub and killed dozens of people. The attacker, a U.S. citizen of Afghanistan descent, had pledged allegiance to terror group Islamic State.