President Donald Trump has asked the US Supreme Court to uphold his temporary travel ban, currently stalled after federal courts said it amounted to religious discrimination against Muslims. Civil rights groups have vowed to fight the “hateful” order.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion before the Supreme Court on Thursday evening, asking the nine justices to expedite the case. If the court accepts the filing, the case could be heard at the beginning of their next term, 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,” DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
The March 6 executive order sought to impose a 90-day suspension on entry into the US from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, citing terrorism risks and the perceived inability of their governments to provide appropriate security screenings. It was an update of an earlier order from January 27, which also encompassed Syria.
Muslim groups have protested the order as discriminatory, while civil rights groups such as the the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that it violated the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause. Reacting to the government’s filing, the ACLU vowed to fight the “hateful ban,” adding a hashtag “#NoMuslimBanEVER.”
The Supreme Court will rule whether Trump’s campaign rhetoric can be used as evidence that the executive orders were intended to discriminate against Muslims. With the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch in April, the court is seen to have a conservative majority. Gorsuch was nominated by Trump to fill the seat vacated by the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart.
Vice President Mike Pence said he was “very confident” the Supreme Court would uphold the executive order.
“The ability to come into the United States of America is a privilege, not a right,” Pence said Friday morning on ‘Fox & Friends.’
If the Supreme Court grants the government’s emergency request, the 90-day ban would go into effect immediately, Reuters reports.