Courts

Appeals Court Rejects Trump Bid to Restore Travel Ban

While Americans were more focused on the build-up to the Super Bowl over the weekend, an appeals court quietly rejected President Trump’s request for an injunction on a lower court’s block on the refugee travel ban.

This sets up an epic battle that could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and could be voted on by Trump’s newly-nominated Judge Gorsuch.

Here’s more from Newsmax:

A federal appeals court on Sunday denied the Justice Department’s request for an immediate reinstatement of President Donald Trump’s ban on accepting certain travelers and all refugees.

The Trump administration had appealed a temporary order restraining the ban nationwide, saying a federal judge in Seattle overreached by “second-guessing” the president on a matter of national security.

The appeals court’s denial of an immediate stay means the legal fight over the ban will continue for days at least. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asked challengers of the ban to respond by early Monday, and for the Justice Department to file a counter-response by the evening.

Acting Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing the administration, told the appeals court that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States — an assertion that appeared to invoke the wider battle to come over illegal immigration.

“The power to expel or exclude aliens is a fundamental sovereign attribute, delegated by Congress to the executive branch of government and largely immune from judicial control,” according to government’s filing.

The government has suspended the ban’s enforcement in compliance with order of the order of U.S. District Judge James Robart. His ruling was an extraordinary setback for the new president, who only a week ago acted to suspend America’s refugee program and halt immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries that the government said raise terrorism concerns.

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Courts

Pence: Gorsuch Will Join Supreme Court ‘One Way or the Other’

The Trump administration has been blazing trails to make it abundantly clear: it’s our way or the highway.

Now Vice President Pence is joining the fun with a promise that the administration will force the Gorsuch nomination through the Senate, not matter what. And now major war is about to break out.

Here’s more from Newsmax:

Vice President Mike Pence is pledging that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will be seated on the high court “one way or the other.”

Pence’s comments during a speech in Philadelphia to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, echoed President Donald Trump’s comments from earlier in the week. Trump urged the Senate’s Republican leader to scrap longstanding rules and “go nuclear” if Democrats block Gorsuch.

Trump on Tuesday nominated the 49-year-old Gorsuch — a Denver-based U.S. appellate court judge — to a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court.

Pence says the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death belongs to the American people.

“This seat does not belong to any party or any ideology or any interest group, this seat on the Supreme Court belongs to the American people, and the American people deserve a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” Pence said.

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Courts

White House Vows ‘Emergency Stay’ of Judicial Order Thwarting President’s Immigration Order

President Trump is pressing his Department of Justice to file immediate action with appellate courts to issue an immediate stay on the block by a federal judge yesterday. It’s going to be a fight to the finish.

Here’s more from Breitbart:

The White House issued a statement vowing to file for an emergency stay of a federal judge’s order to block President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration and refugees from high risk countries from the Middle East.
“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” read a statement from Sean Spicer to reporters.

The statement explained that Trump’s order was issued under his constitutional authority to protect the American people.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart took the unusual step of issuing a emergency stay of Trump’s order as the attorneys general of Washington and Minnesota filed a lawsuit to overturn the legislation.

The plaintiffs argue that Trump’s order violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, including what they say is discrimination against a particular religion.

But Trump defied the order, sending a message on Twitter on Saturday.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” he wrote.

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Courts

Trump Tweet-Slams ‘So-Called’ Federal Judge

President Trump fired off a series of tweets in response to a federal judge’s order on Friday blocking Trump’s ban on refugees. He then promised swift action on reversing the order.

And now there’s a full-blown war between the courts and the White House.

Here’s more from Newsmax:

In a series of angry early-morning tweets, President Donald Trump on Saturday slammed a judge’s decision to put on hold his week-old executive order preventing refugees and travelers from seven Middle East countries from coming into the United States.

Trump insisted that the “ridiculous” decision of the “so-called judge” in the case will be overturned.

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On Friday, federal judge James Robart in Seattle put a nationwide block on Trump’s order for the temporary ban. The White House responded that it believes Trump’s order to be “lawful and appropriate” and that the Department of Justice will file an emergency appeal in the matter.

Hours after Robart’s ruling, however, airlines were being told by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials that they could allow travelers from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen to board travelers affected by the ban.

Robart was appointed to the bench in the Western District of Washington by President George W. Bush in December 2003, taking the judge’s seat the following year. On Friday, he made his ruling apply nationwide; other judges issued orders concerning only specific travelers, not a blanket ruling concerning all.

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Courts

Is Judge Thomas Hardiman Next in Line for SCOTUS?

With the fight over the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court coming to a boil, some are already discussing the next fight that will come over the Court should Donald Trump have the opportunity in the next four years to nominate yet another judge.

Here’s more from Newsmax:

Now that the nomination to replace Antonin Scalia has been settled — Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch landed the role — there is speculation that Judge Thomas Hardiman will be tapped as the next nominee in the event a selection is necessary.

Given the substantive backing that Judge Hardiman (of the 3rd Circuit) received from conservatives that helped make him a finalist to Gorsuch, there is already mounting speculation he will be on deck for the White House if Justice Anthony Kennedy, 80, decides to retire at the end of the court’s term this year.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that he didn’t “want to get in front of the president. [But Hardiman] continues to have the president’s support; somebody who the president was unbelievably impressed with. So we’ll have to see what vacancies come down the pike.”

“He’s an impressive, impressive jurist,” Spicer told me on Wednesday. “Obviously the four that really made that final list for the president were impressive [along with Gorsuch and Hardiman, the final four for Trump to consider included Appellate Judges Bill Pryor of Alabama and Wisconsin’s Diane Sykes].”

Hours before Trump made the Gorsuch announcement on Tuesday night, we spoke to former Pennsylvania Senator and past Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum about his vigorous support of Hardiman for the high court.

“I spoke to President Trump back in December, before he even took office about Tom,” Santorum said. “And I spoke to Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and [Trump political operative] Dave Bossie.”

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Courts

Trump Tells McConnell ‘Go Nuclear’ if Gorsuch Gets Blocked by Dems

Democrat leaders in the Senate are threatening to filibuster the confirmation of Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, despite that many of them already voted for him when he was up for the 10th Circuit Court. And now Trump is telling Senate Republican leaders to “go nuclear” if the Dems attempt to block him.

Here’s more from CNBC:

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he will urge Senate Republicans to scrap filibuster rules, or take the “nuclear option,” if Democrats in the increasingly tense chamber use them to block his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

After Trump nominated the 49-year-old conservative appellate judge to the top U.S. court Tuesday night, Democrats signaled they could delay the process. If they filibuster, Republicans, who have 52 Senate seats, would need 60 votes to confirm him unless they change the rule on the maneuver.

Trump told reporters at the White House he would encourage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to take that route, which would require only a simple majority.

“Yes, if we end up with the same gridlock that they’ve had in Washington, … if we end up with that gridlock, I’d say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear.’ Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in this web.”

Trump’s choice sets up a second straight year of bitter partisanship over the court seat, which was left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago. Then-President Barack Obama nominated Washington appellate Judge Merrick Garland for the spot, but the Republican-controlled Senate never held a vote on him.

At his age, Gorsuch could help to tip the ideological balance of the court for decades. Democrats, already combative about the seat because of Garland, criticized Trump’s pick due to Gorsuch’s rulings such issues as gun rights and religious objections to a birth control coverage provision in the Affordable Care Act.

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Courts

Busted: Dems Who Oppose Gorsuch Already Voted for Him

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined other liberal Democrats in criticizing President Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court as potentially unfit.

There’s just one problem: a bunch of them already voted to confirm him to the 10th Circuit Court with no objections. Let’s see how they wiggle out of this one.

Here’s more from DC Statesman:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has already issued a statement that he has “serious doubts” over President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch:

“Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard,” Schumer said. “Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women’s rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice on the Court.”

He then tweeted:

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He also tweeted it in Spanish, for some unknown reason.

But if he opposes his confirmation he will have to explain why Gorsuch was so popular when he was first confirmed as federal judge in 2006. He will also have to explain why Schumer voted for him then.

And Chuck Schumer wasn’t the only Democrat to vote for Neil Gorsuch, EVERY Democrat voted for him. He was unanimously confirmed to the bench:

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 4.22.18 PM

That included Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.

In fact, Gorsuch was one of two judges nominated by George W. Bush to be unanimously confirmed. I suspect President Trump took this into consideration when he was nominated last night. It’s hard to oppose his nomination when you are on record already having voted for him.

But it certainly is by no means impossible. Get ready for a fight.

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Courts

Democrats: Trump ‘Stole’ Neil Gorsuch Seat from Obama

Now that President Trump’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court is clear, Democrats are beside themselves with fury over the fact that Republicans blocked Obama from filling the seat. There’s just one problem with their protest.

Here’s more from Breitbart:

Democrats were seething Tuesday night over President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that Trump “stole” the seat from President Barack Obama.
In a fundraising email, the Democratic National Committee said (original emphasis):

Judge Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s newly-revealed Supreme Court nominee, has a legal history that shows a deep sympathy for corporate interests and an apparent disdain for workers.

Donald wants to put Judge Gorsuch in the Supreme Court seat the GOP stole from President Obama. Add your name to tell the Senate to reject his nomination.

As an attorney, Judge Gorsuch routinely represented big businesses in class action lawsuits. As a judge on the Tenth Circuit, he wrote a concurring opinion in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius — the case that allowed employers to deny basic health care coverage to women by ruling the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate was unconstitutional. He upheld a decision that denied long-term insurance benefits to a worker who sustained a work-related injury that required spinal surgery. He even dissented from a ruling in favor of a truck driver whose employer illegally fired him for abandoning a trailer with locked brakes — so he wouldn’t freeze to death.

And as a member of the ultra-conservative “Federalist Society,” Gorsuch believes in severely restricting the power that federal agencies like the EPA have to regulate businesses.

It’s not hard to see why Trump loves him so much — but from where we’re sitting, Joel, Judge Gorsuch has no business on the Supreme Court bench.

Republicans declined to move Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, through the Senate, based on the principle — articulated by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) decades before — that a Supreme Court Justice should not be confirmed in the last year of a lame duck administration.

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Courts

Cruz: Gorsuch a Principled Constitutionalist, and a ‘Home Run’

Sen. Ted Cruz took to CNN last night after President Trump’s announcement to praise Neil Gorsuch as a ‘home run’ pick for the Supreme Court.

Here’s more from Breitbart:

During an interview on CNN on Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated that the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a “home run.”

Cruz said, “During the campaign, he promised the American people that he would nominate a principled constitutionalist to replace Justice Scalia, and tonight President Trump honored that commitment. … I think Judge Gorsuch is a home run. He has a decade of proven experience on the court of appeals of being faithful to the Constitution, following the law, protecting the Bill of Rights and our fundamental liberties, and I think that record will yield a swift confirmation in the United States Senate.”

He added, “Democrats are engaged right now in unprecedented partisan obstruction, but I hope on the Supreme Court they will not engage in that practice. … Democrats will not succeed in filibustering Judge Gorsuch. They may try, but they will not succeed.”

Cruz also addressed whether or not blocking Gorsuch would be fair turnabout for blocking the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by saying the two nominations took place under a “fundamentally different” set of circumstances because Garland was appointed during an election year.

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Courts

Trump Kept Gorsuch Secret With Back Roads and Military Jet

Trump’s pick for Supreme Court was shrouded in mystery up to the final hour before his announcement last night. And now it’s clear how his team kept it a secret. Is this an indication of how organized his administration is?

Here’s more from Bloomberg:

Less than 48 hours before Neil Gorsuch was introduced as President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, he was traveling in secret down Colorado back roads to a military aircraft as part of a White House operation to keep his selection under wraps.

While the Trump White House has seen its inner battles aired in the media during its first days in office, administration officials showed Tuesday they can keep a secret when they want to. While White House officials had strongly signaled to lawmakers that Gorsuch was a contender, the administration wanted Trump’s pick to come out on his terms — in front of a live, prime-time television audience — and they succeeded.

Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appeals court judge in Denver, was informed that he was Trump’s choice in a Monday phone call from the president, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, describing the measures employed to preserve secrecy. Shortly after the call, Gorsuch — who lives near Boulder, Colorado — went to a neighbor’s house and waited for White House staff to arrive.

Since he was already widely reported as a front-runner for the job, White House staffers drove back roads to make sure they wouldn’t be spotted with him. They ferried him aboard a military jet from Colorado to Washington, where he stayed with a friend rather than at a hotel to avoid being noticed.

Throughout the selection process, the president’s team managed to keep its deliberations out of the public eye. Trump interviewed a total of four candidates and met with Gorsuch and two other candidates — federal appeals court judges Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor — on Jan. 14 at Trump Tower. The judges sneaked past a crowd of reporters who were staking out the building’s lobby elevators.

Members of Congress were informed of the decision about an hour before it was announced from the White House East Room to a nationwide television audience. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will oversee the nomination, said he didn’t know Trump’s decision for certain until about 45 minutes before the announcement, when select members of Congress were invited to the White House.

“They can keep a secret,” Graham said.

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