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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a new decision on President Donald Trump’s March 6 Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

The court affirmed the portions of the district court injunction that apply to the 90-day, six-country travel ban, but it vacated the portions of the injunction that relate to the government doing an internal review of its vetting procedures, which could lead to a much larger ban based on a different criterion.

The Trump exception

According to University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner, the courts are creating a “Trump exception” to settled law on presidential powers by ignoring the Supreme Court’s admonition in Kleindienst v. Mandel that courts may not “look behind” a “facially legitimate and bona fide reason” when the president exercises immigration authority.

The Ninth Circuit does mention the Supreme Court’s admonition in Mandel, but gives it only cursory attention (see footnote 9 on page 33 of the decision).

If the Supreme Court does not intervene, Trump may be faced ultimately with the constitutional crisis of not being able to meet his national security responsibilities as the chief of the executive branch with respect to terrorism coming from Muslim countries, unless he defies the orders of the judicial branch.

Tip of the iceberg

The six-country travel ban is just the tip of the iceberg. The internal reviews the court has given approval to can lead to far more serious consequences.

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Published originally on The Hill.

About the author.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.