Trump delays effective date of travel ban amid court battle

President Donald Trump signs a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on Monday leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries at the Pentagon in Washington

President Donald Trump paid a brief visit Thursday to the Supreme Court, where he had a front-row seat but no formal role in a courtroom ceremony honoring his high court pick and the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch.

Trump's latest tweets made it more awkward for Supreme Court justices who might be sympathetic to the president's case to base a ruling purely within the text of the order - no less than George Conway, husband of White House official Kellyanne Conway, wrote in his own recent string of tweets that they make it harder for the administration's lawyers to get to five votes on the Supreme Court.

The president's travel ban, first issued in January, and a revised order from March have been in legal limbo after federal judges put them on hold and appeals courts have upheld those rulings.

As for Gorsuch's investiture ceremony, there will probably be no explicit talk of Trump's travel ban but the controversial executive order will surely loom large nonetheless. It cited the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling in the McCutcheon case, which said the First Amendment "has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office".

Some critics of the travel ban have said that the policy's 90-day halt to visitors from Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Libya is due to expire in mid-June, even though the ban itself has never taken effect.

Otto Warmbier's release from North Korea: A timeline
His four past trips in 2013 and 2014 generated a storm of publicity, most of it unfavorable, and did little in terms of diplomacy. His release brings the number of USA citizens known to be in detention in the hermetic communist dictatorship down to three.

"The President was clear in his landmark speech in Saudi Arabia: this is not about religion; it is about national security".

Trump's suspension of the USA refugee program also remains blocked.

Interestingly, in a filing with the Supreme Court Monday, the plaintiffs in the Maryland case argued that the controversy is about to become moot because the entry ban was meant to last for only 90 days and that period ends two days from now. An earlier, separate decision by an appeals court in Virginia had found that the order's primary objective was religious. The justices are considering the administration's request to reinstate its ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.

Several states and civil rights groups also challenged the revised ban, saying it remained rooted in discrimination and exceeded the president's authority. The appeals court said Judge Watson had erred in barring the administration from conducting internal reviews of its vetting procedures while the case moved forward.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set a new briefing schedule, meaning the highest court in the judicial branch in the coming days will decide whether to lift the temporary lower court injunction and whether to hear the Trump administration's appeal against the injunction that blocked the order's implementation.

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