Muslims and Yemenis gathered with their supporters on the steps of Brooklyn's Borough Hall, during a protest against President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of NY.
The request came in three separate petitions to courts in Richmond, Va., and San Francisco that blocked the president's executive order barring most immigrants from countries deemed at risk for terrorism, as well as worldwide refugees.
The petition asks the high court to review the legality of the lower-court blockade of Trump's ban, whether the ban violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, and whether the blockade of the ban is "impermissibly overbroad".
"It's an interesting procedural move, but the fact that it's taken this long may undermine, at least to some extent, the Trump administration's core argument that the entry ban, which has never gone into full effect, is essential to protect our national security", Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas Law school professor and CNN analyst, said.
At issue is Trump's plan to ban most travel from six countries - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - for 90 days and suspend the entire refugee program for 120 days.
U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory said the order "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination". The DOJ needs five votes to lift the ruling and reinstate the travel ban.
A similar ruling against Trump's policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place and will be reviewed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. An order issued a week after President Trump took office was also quickly blocked from taking effect. Finally, the government has dragged the issue to the Supreme Court.
The government's filing late Thursday asks the justices to set aside the 4th Circuit ruling and accept the case for oral arguments.
But in their appeal on Thursday, the Justice Department said determining what candidate Trump and his aides meant would require "judicial pscychoanalysis".
Because the travel ban case involves legal questions about immigration, executive authority and First Amendment religious freedom, it is not clear how the Court would split - nor is it clear how Justice Gorsuch would rule. The case will be heard if four of the nine justices agree to take it up.
The Supreme Court could always decide to do what it wants, such as speeding up the typical briefing schedule or even holding a special sitting over the summer.
"Int27l-Refugee-Assistance.pdf" class="local_link" >asked the Supreme Court to step into the legal dispute over the constitutionality of the executive order that the president signed on March 6.
The two requests for permission to start enforcing the executive order were aimed at decisions by a federal trial judge in Maryland and by a federal trial judge in Hawaii.