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Linda Geller-Schwartz: Donald Trump should act on Florida’s bipartisan support for judicial nominees

Linda Geller-Schwartz

Donald Trump has been mired in controversy his first few months in office, and by his own admission, the job of being President is harder than he thought. But Trump has an opportunity to get something meaningful done quickly and in a bipartisan fashion for Floridians. He can act on an appeal from our two Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.

These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both Senators, but left waiting for hearings (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.

Sens. Nelson and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies,” meaning there simply are not enough judges to handle the growing caseload. As judicial vacancies remain unfilled, Floridians who rely on our court system are the ones who suffer.

Last year, the watchdog group Integrity Florida issued a report detailing the myriad ways that lengthy judicial vacancies delay and deny justice for Floridians. Prolonged judicial vacancies inevitably result in case delays, higher caseloads, increased administrative stress and judicial burnout. Such judicial vacancies “threaten the timely administration of justice in both criminal and civil cases” according to the report.

In their letter, the senators asked the president to renominate Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for vacancies in the Middle District of Florida, and Phillip Lammens in the Northern District. With our courts already stretched razor thin, it only makes sense to move these qualified bipartisan nominees through the process rather than starting over from scratch. To underscore this point, Nelson and Rubio make clear in their letter that “timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies.”

The letter also refers to the failure of Senate leaders to take “timely action in the last Congress.” In addition to the highly publicized blocking of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans in recent years have refused to act on numerous lower court vacancies, causing the number of judicial vacancies to skyrocket.

As a result, President Trump now faces the daunting task of filling more than 120 federal court vacancies. Where there are qualified, bipartisan candidates available to be renominated, it makes sense for the president to act quickly. Failing to address these vacancies threatens the stability and fairness of our justice system and delays justice for Americans seeking their day in court.

Floridians expect and deserve to have a fair and functioning judicial system, and that requires our courts to be working at full capacity. Sens. Nelson and Rubio should be commended for setting aside partisan politics for the sake of our judicial system and the public interest. For his part, President Trump should take notice and heed their advice.

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Linda Geller-Schwartz is Florida State Policy Advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women.

 

Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote

In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the message to GOP senators at a private lunch attended by Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. The decision was described by a Republican aide and another informed person who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door decision.

All GOP senators were planning to travel to the White House later Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump, one source said.

McConnell had hoped to push the measure through his chamber by this week’s end, before an Independence Day recess that party leaders fear will be used by foes of the legislation to tear away support.

The bill rolling back much of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law has been one of the party’s top priorities for years, and the delay is a major embarrassment to Trump and McConnell. At least five GOP senators — conservatives and moderates — had said they would vote against beginning debate.

Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press.

Al Lawson fundraising off of ‘MEAN’ Trumpcare

It was only a year ago that candidate Al Lawson was being introduced to Jacksonville media by Susie Wiles, the chair of the Donald Trump Florida campaign.

Lawson was presented as an alternative to the fiercely partisan Corrine Brown, and was lauded as someone willing to work across the aisle.

However, incumbent Rep. Al Lawson is a different story, as a white-hot Tuesday fundraising email (“Stopping MEAN Health Care”) makes clear.

“During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised America that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Now with the help of his friends in Congress, TRUMP IS BREAKING HIS PROMISE,” the email reads.

Noting that Senate Republicans are mulling over whether to vote for health care reform or not, Lawson — whose legislative body has already voted for a version of the “American Health Care Act” — urges prospective donors to “stand with [him] against this bad Republican bill.”

“Trump and his Republican cronies are trying to take away your health care. The GOP bill not only raises health insurance premiums, but it takes money out of your pockets and gives it to big Republican donors through tax cuts … Together, we can save the Affordable Care Act and block the Republican’s [SIC] horrible bill. Donald Trump thinks he can force his radical agenda on America. He is wrong, and we will show him!”

Prediction: Susie Wiles won’t be showing Lawson around Jacksonville anytime soon.

These senators will make or break the GOP’s health care push

President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace “Obamacare” is now in the hands of a key group of GOP senators who are opposing —or not yet supporting — legislation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing to bring to a vote this week.

These lawmakers range from moderate to conservative Republicans, and include senators who were just re-elected and a couple facing tough re-election fights. Their concerns about the legislation vary along with their ideology, from those who say it’s overly punitive in ejecting people from the insurance rolls, to others who say it doesn’t go far enough in dismantling former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Satisfying one group risks alienating another.

Trump spent part of the weekend placing phone calls to a handful of these lawmakers, focusing on senators who supported his candidacy — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The next several days will show whether the president’s efforts pay off and if those lawmakers and the others will ultimately fall in line on legislation that would impact health care for millions of Americans, while allowing Trump and GOP leaders to boast of fulfilling a campaign promise seven years in the making.

McConnell has scant margin for error given united Democratic opposition, and can afford to lose only two Republicans from his 52-member caucus.

A look at the key Republican lawmakers:

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THE CONSERVATIVES

Cruz, Paul, Johnson and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah jointly announced their opposition to the legislation as written last Thursday, the same day it was released. They said it did not go far enough to dismantle “Obamacare,” and Johnson also complained of a rushed process.

“They’re trying to jam this thing through,” Johnson complained Monday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Yet Johnson, like many other congressional Republicans, was elected in 2010 on pledges to repeal Obamacare and has been making that promise ever since. While looking for tweaks that can satisfy the conservatives, Senate GOP leaders are also arguing that any Republican who fails to vote for the leadership bill will be responsible for leaving Obamacare standing.

Few Senate Republicans expect Paul to vote with them in the end, because of opposition he’s long expressed to government tax subsidies going to pay for private insurance, but many expect Cruz could be won over, especially since he’s running for re-election.

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THE ENDANGERED

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the only Senate Republican up for re-election next year in a state Hillary Clinton won, surprised Senate GOP leaders by coming out hard against the health legislation at a news conference Friday. Standing next to Nevada’s popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Heller said he could not support a bill that “takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”

Nevada is one of the states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The GOP bill would unwind that expansion and cap Medicaid payments for the future. Nevada also has a disproportionate share of older residents under age 65 — when Medicare kicks in — who would likely face higher premiums because the GOP bill gives insurance companies greater latitude to charge more to older customers.

Heller’s fellow moderate Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake, faces similar issues of an aging population in neighboring Arizona. He is viewed as the second-most-endangered GOP incumbent next year after Heller.

Flake has not yet taken stance on the bill but is facing a raft of television ads from AARP and other groups that are opposed.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat seen as a possible Flake challenger next year, said Monday the Senate bill “doesn’t make anyone healthier. It doesn’t make anyone safer.”

But Flake, who was outspoken against Trump during last year’s campaign but has grown quieter since his election, also faces a potential primary challenge from the right.

Both Heller and Flake face the uncomfortable prospect of angering their party’s base if they don’t support the GOP health bill — but alienating general election moderate and independent voters if they do.

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THE MODERATES

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are fellow moderates who’ve raised concerns about the Senate health bill for a variety of reasons.

On Monday, after the release of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that the bill will leave 22 million more people uninsured over a decade, Collins announced she would oppose an important procedural vote on the legislation this week. Along with potential opposition from Johnson, Paul and Heller on the vote, that could leave leadership struggling to even advance to a final vote on the health care bill.

Collins said that the bill’s Medicaid cuts hurt the most vulnerable and that it doesn’t fix problems for rural Maine.

Murkowski has not taken a position but has also expressed concerns about the impacts on a rural, Medicaid-dependent population, as well as funding cuts to Planned Parenthood.

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THE TWO-ISSUE SENATORS

Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are generally reliable votes for GOP leadership. In this case, both have two specific, and related, concerns causing them heartburn on the health bill: The prevalence of opioid addiction in their states, and their constituents’ reliance on Medicaid.

In many cases, voters with addiction problems rely on Medicaid for treatment help, and Portman and Capito both represent states that expanded Medicaid under Obama’s law.

Last year about 100,000 low-income West Virginia residents with Medicaid coverage had drug abuse diagnoses, according to state health officials.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

A month into hurricane season, Charlie Crist says Donald Trump needs to fill NOAA post now

Among the many positions in the federal government that have gone unfilled during the first five months of the Donald Trump administration is someone to lead the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

With hurricane season only about to get more intense in the coming months, Charlie Crist is calling on the White House to fill that position now.

“Not only does NOAA’s work help support our local economy, but it also provides valuable information to my constituents — information that saves lives,” said Crist. “Leaving the position of NOAA Administrator vacant is taking an unnecessary risk with people’s lives and livelihoods. I’m urging President Trump to quickly nominate a qualified individual and work with the Senate to have them confirmed.”

The NOAA administrator oversees a wide portfolio of climate research, weather forecasting and ocean protection and a $5.6 billion budget. The long vacancy is in contrast to Barack Obama, which nominated Jane Lubchenco as his NOAA administrator a month before he was inaugurated.

NOAA is currently being led by Benjamin Friedman, the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

The Washington Post recently listed three officials as being the top contenders to be nominated by Trump; Scott Rayder, a senior adviser to the President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and former NOAA chief of staff; Barry Lee Myers, the CEO of AccuWeather; and Jon White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Last month NOAA reported that for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, “forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.”

Here’s the text of Crist’s letter to Trump:

Dear President Trump,

I write today to urge you to expeditiously nominate a qualified individual to serve as Administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The work performed by NOAA is critically important to not only my District, but to countless other communities across the country. NOAA is responsible for weather forecasting, ocean monitoring, coastal resiliency and planning, and fishery management, just to name a few. Not only does this work help support the local economy of my District, but it also provides valuable information to my constituents — information that saves lives.

As a Floridian and member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the National Weather Service (NWS), including the National Hurricane Center, is of utmost importance to me. As you know, hurricane season began on June 1st; and NOAA has predicted an above-normal season in the Atlantic. In fact, we’ve already seen three named storms this year — including a rare preseason tropical storm and Tropical Storm Cindy, which recently made landfall along the Gulf Coast. It is critically important that you immediately nominate a NOAA Administrator who can provide the stability and direction needed to appropriately manage and navigate hurricane season.

I would also like to commend the work performed by the NWS field offices, including the office located in Ruskin, Florida near my District. These offices fill a critical link between national weather prediction and local preparedness; and I am a strong supporter of the men and women who tirelessly staff them — many of whom work off-hours and overnight shifts. In light of the recent Government Accountability Office report showing that NWS meteorologist vacancies are growing and “employees are fatigued and morale is low,” it is my hope that the next NOAA Administrator will take a hard look at this issue and move in an appropriate direction to correct it. Fatigued employees mean less accurate predictions. Less accurate predictions mean more lives at risk during severe weather events.

Mr. President, leaving the position of NOAA Administrator vacant is taking an unnecessary risk with people’s lives and livelihoods. I urge you to quickly nominate a qualified individual and work with the Senate to have them confirmed. Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Charlie Crist
United States Congressman

Darryl Paulson: Midterm elections boost Democratic chances

Democrats are looking forward to the 2018 midterm election with great hopes of regaining political control of the House and Senate. Democrats would need to pick up 24 House seats and three Senate seats to capture the majority.

Democrats hope to pick up anywhere between one and four seats in Florida with the seat of retiring Republic Ileana Ros-Lehtinen their top priority. Other Republican targets include Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Brian Mast. A three-seat switch would give Democrats majority control of the Florida delegation.

A big plus for Democrats is that the party controlling the White House has lost an average of 30 House seats and four Senate seats in the past 21 midterm elections. If the Democrats can achieve the average midterm gains, they will take control of both houses.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats lost 63 House seats in 2010, with most of the losses attributed to the passage of Obamacare. Obama and the Dems lost 13 more seats in the 2014 midterm. The loss of 76 seats in the two Obama midterms gave Republicans their current 241 to 194 advantage.

President George W. Bush gained 8 seats in the 2002 midterm, becoming only the second president in the past 21 midterms to gain seats. The gain was attributed to public support for the president in the aftermath of 911. In the 2006 midterm, Bush and the Republicans lost 30 seats.

President Bill Clinton lost 54 seats in 1994 due to a reaction to his failed attempt to pass health care. Four years later, Clinton became the only other president in the past 21 midterms to gain seats. Democrats picked up five seats in 1998, a reaction to the Republican overreach in their attempt to impeach the president.

The largest midterm loss in the past 21 midterms occurred in the 1922 midterm of President Warren Harding. The Republicans lost 77 seats.

Midterms clearly are bad news for the party controlling the White House, which means Republicans will confront a major obstacle in 2018. In addition, Trump’s low approval rate, 34 percent, is historically low for an incoming president.

Not only is President Donald Trump unpopular, but so is his major legislative priority, the American Health Care Act. The public has strongly opposed the Republican plan with 55 percent strongly opposing the plan in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

It is worth remembering that two of the largest midterm losses were related to health care. Clinton and the Democrats lost 54 seats when his health care plan failed, and Obama and the Democrats lost 63 seats when health care was approved. Will a similar fate confront Trump and the Republicans in 2018?

Republicans point to the fact that they are five-for-five in winning special congressional elections since Trump became president. But, special elections have been poor indicators of electoral success in midterm elections.

Democrats should not be over-optimistic even though almost all political factors favor them. Likewise, Republicans should not be optimistic because of their success in special elections.

If Democrats fail to win political control in the 2018 midterm elections, look for Democrats to thoroughly out their leaders, especially in the House, and replace them with younger, more articulate leaders for the party. The current House leaders have an average age in the mid-70’s.

It is past time for new faces and new leadership.

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Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

Rick Scott heads to D.C. to lobby for ‘Florida interests’ in health care bill, avoids specifics

Rick Scott heads to Washington D.C. this week, ostensibly to meet with members of the Florida GOP congressional delegation regarding the health care bill unveiled last Thursday by Senate Republicans.

What Scott thinks of the bill, or what changes he believes are warranted, remains a mystery.

“I want to thank President Trump; he’s absolutely committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare. I think that’s positive,” the governor declared to a small group of reporters Monday afternoon.

The comments came after Scott introduced former state Representative and Public Service Commission (PSC) member Jimmy Patronis as Florida’s new Chief Financial Officer during an event in the new offices of Aero Simulation, located near I-4 and U.S. 301 in East Tampa.

The governor kept it vague when asked to specify his exact concerns about the new bill, which was just published Thursday and may (or may not) come before the full Senate by the end of this week. When looking at the legislation, Scott said he is guided by two main thoughts: One, Florida is treated fairly in the process; two, that everyone has the right to choose the most suitable health care plan.

“We all pay our own taxes; we should be treated fairly in how those dollars come back to our state,” Scott said. “You should have the right to choose the insurance that fits you and your family.”

Critics of the GOP proposals in both the House and the Senate focus on the more than $800 billion in proposed cuts to Medicaid, which go toward fulfilling their stated mandate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In Tampa, Congresswoman Kathy Castor said earlier Monday that those cuts would be devastating to Floridians, with so much of those funds being used to keep seniors in nursing homes.

“What’s important to be me is that Florida [is] treated fairly,” Scott reiterated in response to those concerns.

“As you know when I came in, our Medicaid program had been growing way faster than our general revenues,” he said. “We came up with a better way of doing it. We’ve seen a reduction in the cost per capita of our Medicaid population. It’s very important that people have access to good quality health care at a price. Whether you’re paying for it, your employer’s paying for it, or your government’s paying for it. Somebody’s paying for this. We’ve got to find a way to reduce the cost of health care. The problem with health care is that it cost too much.”

When asked again if he had specific issues with the bill, whose contents have been argued about nationally in the past few days, the governor chose to ignore the question.

“We know that President Trump inherited a mess,” he responded. “Obamacare was spiraling out of control. The costs were skyrocketing, they’ve gone up way too fast.”

Every governor in the country is obviously concerned with what will transpire out of Washington on health care.

But for Scott, the interest is intense. Before becoming governor seven years ago, the most important part of his resume was in the 1990s, his years as the head of the massive Columbia/HCA hospital chain.

It was at that time, Scott led the private sector activism against Hillary Clinton‘s attempt to remake health care.

After leaving HCA/Columbia in the late 90s (where it incurred the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history, totaling $1.7 billion), Scott again resurfaced as the face of the opposition to a Democratic Party-based plan to again reform the health care system, this time under Barack Obama in 2009.

That’s when Scott formed Conservatives for Patients Rights, a vehicle designed to stop Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“I used to run the largest hospital company in the country, that’s very important,” Scott told reporters Monday. “So I’m going to keep fighting for the things that I believe in.”

(Shortly after the governor’s news conference, the Congressional Budget Office announced the Senate’s bill would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.)

Scott was in Tampa Monday afternoon for the third of three scheduled stops where he was traveling with Patronis, an earlier Scott appointee to the PSC and the Constitution Revision Commission in March.

In becoming CFO, Patronis resigned from both of those positions.

Speaking with reporters, Patronis begged off any discussion that he might be thinking about a CFO candidacy in 2018.

“They’ll be plenty of time to talk about politics later, right now I’m just really focused on getting up to speed on the job duties of the CFO’s office,” he said, adding that he’ll sit down with outgoing CFO Atwater Tuesday to learn more about the position.

“I wanted somebody who really cared about the state, he understands business, he understands the impact that taxes have, that regulations have, he’s served in the Legislature,” Scott said. “What I can tell you about Jimmy Patronis is he’ll always try to do the right thing. I look forward to working with him at the Governor/Cabinet meetings, because I know he’ll always show up and be thoughtful about the decision-making process.”

Among those attending the news conference were Tampa Bay-area Republicans Tom Lee, Wilton Simpson, Chris Latvala and Shawn Harrison. Patronis’ former PSC colleague Julie Brown was also there.

Lenny Curry out of U.S. Conference of Mayors

The United States Conference of Mayors has set itself up as a counterweight to President Donald Trump on issues ranging from Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Accord to military spending.

Last weekend’s resolutions against military spending were especially interesting, with the Conference issuing resolutions “calling for hearings on real city budgets needed and the taxes our cities send to the federal military budget” and “opposition to military spending.”

We asked Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry for his thoughts on the matter, and the response proved to be more illuminating than the resolutions.

“Mayor Curry is not a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He maintains his support of the President’s commitment to keeping America safe,”said Marsha Oliver, Director of Public Affairs for the Mayor’s Office.

For those watching closely, this is a stunning development, with Curry being the most prominent big-city mayor to exempt himself from the mayoral group.

Apparently, that exemption had happened some months back, though information was not disseminated about it, despite questions about differences between Curry’s positions and the conference.

On Monday afternoon, Curry explained the reasons for leaving the group, which happened in late 2016 or early 2017, he said.

Curry wanted to know if the Mayor’s Office had paid the invoice, and it had not — so given the Conference’s political positions and lack of value add for his office, he didn’t think that membership was a “good use of taxpayer dollars.”

 

 

Kathy Castor on Nancy Pelosi: No time to discuss a change of leadership

In the wake of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff‘s four-point lost to Republican Karen Handel in last week’s special election, there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats desperate to show that they’re building momentum going into the 2018 midterms.

Ossoff’s loss was the fourth special election to go to the Republicans in the first six months of the Trump presidency.

“Our brand is worse than Trump,” Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan lamented the day after Ossoff’s loss, while New York Representative Kathleen Rice of New York told CNN the entire Democratic leadership team should go.

First and foremost, Rice and Ryan are referring to Nancy Pelosi, who has been at the head of the Democratic House leadership since 2003.

Pelosi has fought back tenaciously, saying she isn’t going anywhere, and she has a majority of supporters in her caucus, such as Tampa U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who continues to stand by her despite the growing criticism of her tenure.

“This is the exact wrong time to be having this discussion because everyone needs to be focused on defeating this health care bill in the Senate this week,” Castor told FloridaPolitics when asked Monday morning in Tampa where she stood on the issue.

The calls among some Democrats to oust Pelosi have been ongoing for years as the Democrats have continued to lose seats in the House of Representatives. Those grumblings were loud after last fall, and reached a fever pitch way back in 2010 after the Republicans took back the House and the speakership from Pelosi.

At that time, Castor called the discussion “a distraction,”

While calling Pelosi “a strong leader,” Castor said Monday that “over the next few years, you’re going to see a change in the House leadership.”

One would think so. Pelosi is 77. Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer from Maryland is 78, while assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn turns 77 next month.

While some pundits and Democrats said that last week’s election was one that Democrats needed to show that they will have a big year against vulnerable GOP incumbents in Congress, others have noted that it was a district that has always been Republican.

“This is Newt Gingrich’s (former) district; (now-Health Secretary) Tom Price’s district. A first-time candidate. That was going to be a toughie,” said Castor, who made a campaign appearance for Ossoff.

In fact, Price defeated his Democratic challenger last November by 23 percentage points, and Georgia Six was Gingrich’s home district for more than 20 years. But it was also a district that is changing, and is now the 6th best educated congressional district in the country.

Trump narrowly won it by just 1.5 points over Hillary Clinton last fall, however.

“I thought it was a warning shot to the 70 other districts out there are more Democratic, or more independent than that one, you just watch,” said an ever-confident Castor about the Democrats chances of winning back House seats in 2018.

I’m not distraught over that at,” she said. “I’m more hopeful than anything.”

Donald Trump travel ban partly reinstated; fall court arguments set

The Supreme Court is letting a limited version of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries take effect, a victory for Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.

The justices will hear full arguments in October in the case that has stirred heated emotions across the nation. In the meantime, the court said Monday that Trump’s ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts.

The administration has said the 90-day ban was needed on national security grounds to allow an internal review of screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries. Opponents say the ban is unlawful, based on visitors’ Muslim religion. The administration review should be complete before Oct. 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.

A 120-ban on refugees also is being allowed to take effect on a limited basis.

Three of the court’s conservative justices said they would have let the complete bans take effect.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said the government has shown it is likely to succeed on the merits of the case, and that it will suffer irreparable harm with any interference. Thomas said the government’s interest in preserving national security outweighs any hardship to people denied entry into the country.

Some immigration lawyers said the limited nature of the ban and the silence of the court’s liberals on the issue Monday suggested that the court had not handed Trump much of a victory. The White House did not immediately comment.

The court’s opinion explained the kinds of relationships people from the six countries must demonstrate to obtain a U.S. visa.

“For individuals, a close familial relationship is required,” the court said. For people who want to come to the United States to work or study, “the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, not for the purpose of evading” the travel ban.

The opinion faulted the two federal appeals courts that had blocked the travel policy for going too far to limit Trump’s authority over immigration. The president announced the travel ban a week after he took office in January and revised it in March after setbacks in court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination. That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends September 30.

Trump’s first executive order on travel applied to travelers from Iraq and well as the six countries, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out whom the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.

In March, Trump issued the narrower order.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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