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SCOTUS sets June 12 deadline for travel ban challengers’ responses

WASHINGTON — Parties who are challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban have until June 12 to respond to a petition from the Justice Department asking the Supreme Court to allow the ban to go into effect, the court said Friday.

The Court set a deadline of June 12, which comes about two weeks before its term is scheduled to end.

Once the Supreme Court has heard from the challengers, it will decide whether it should allow the revised controversial executive order — that blocks entry from six Muslim-majority countries — to go into effect while the justices decide whether they should take up the government’s appeal.

To succeed, the Trump administration will need the votes of five justices. According to rules that govern the Supreme Court, the justices would take into consideration whether there is a “reasonable probability” that four of the justices would eventually agree to hear the case and a “fair prospect” that a majority of the court will hold that the lower court opinions were erroneous.

They’d also consider if “irreparable harm” would result from the denial of the request to lift the injunction.

There are two separate challenges before the court. One is brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project and other plaintiffs, who won a global injunction in March that was later upheld by a majority of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The injunction applies to Section 2 (c) of the order that suspends entry of foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The federal appeals court ruled that the ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

The other case was brought by the attorney general of Hawaii and other individuals who claimed the ban exceeds the President’s statutory authority and violates the Constitution. The plaintiffs are challenging not only Section 2 of the order — the restriction on travel — but another section of the order pertaining to refugees. On March 15, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the US District Court for the District of Hawaii issued an injunction blocking both sections. Watson, relying upon statements that the Trump made as a candidate for the presidency, held that the “stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is at the very least secondary to a religious objective of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims” in violation of the Constitution.

The case is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel heard arguments on May 15 and has yet to rule.

In asking the Supreme Court to allow the ban to go into effect, government lawyers accused the lower courts of undermining “the President’s constitutional and statutory power to protect national security.”