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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

US Supreme Court to decide legality of Trump travel ban

The policy, announced in September, blocks people from six Muslim-majority countries from entering into the United States

People march as they participate in the '#NoMuslimBanEver' rally in Los Angeles, California on October 15, 2017.  The US Supreme Court is to decide whether the policy violates federal immigration law or the US Constitution’s prohibition on religious discrimination. AFP / Mark Ralston
People march as they participate in the '#NoMuslimBanEver' rally in Los Angeles, California on October 15, 2017. The US Supreme Court is to decide whether the policy violates federal immigration law or the US Constitution’s prohibition on religious discrimination. AFP / Mark Ralston

The US Supreme Court on Friday set up a major showdown over presidential powers, agreeing to decide the legality of President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries.

The conservative-majority court is due to hear arguments in April and issue a ruling by the end of June on whether the policy violates federal immigration law or the US Constitution’s prohibition on religious discrimination. Mr Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the United States of most people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The legal fight involves the third version of a contentious policy Mr Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017.

The Supreme Court on December 4 signalled it was likely to uphold the ban when, on a 7-2 vote, it let it go into full effect while legal challenges by the state of Hawaii and others continued. Lower courts had partially blocked the ban.

The Republican president has said the policy is needed to protect the United States from terrorism by Islamic militants.

Those challenging the travel ban have argued that it was motivated by Mr Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in court with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president.

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Read more:

Trump travel ban should not apply to people with strong US ties, court says

US has begun fully implementing Trump travel ban

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As a candidate, Mr Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” As president, he has rescinded protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, sought to ramp up deportations and pursued new measures restricting legal immigration.

In November, he shared on Twitter anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.

“We have always known this case would ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court. This will be an important day for justice and the rule of law. We look forward to the court hearing the case,” said Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, a Democrat.

Mr Trump’s ban also covered people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, but lower courts had already allowed those provisions to go into effect.

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