The US president has blasted the Justice Department for submitting a 'watered-down' version of his proposed travel order to the Supreme Court. He called it a 'travel ban,' even though that may well hurt his legal case.
US President Donald Trump on Monday unleashed a tweet storm in which he lambasted the Department of Justice (DOJ) for not submitting a tough enough version to the Supreme Court of his proposed regulation suspending travel from several Muslim-majority countries to the US.
He also called upon the DOJ to ask for an expedited hearing before the court.
The DOJ submitted a less draconian executive order to the US Supreme Court last Thursday.
The one that was proposed in March after Trump's initial ban, first put forth in January, was rejected as unconstitutional by the lower courts. But the lower courts also rejected the Trump administration's second attempt to ban travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days.
The DOJ has in fact already asked for an expedited hearing, as called for by Trump in his tweet, but the Supreme Court rarely grants emergency requests. At issue before the high court is whether Trump's proposed travel curbs violate the US Constitution's ban on religious discrimination by targeting Muslims.
It was unclear whether Trump had communicated his displeasure to the DOJ through traditional channels or merely via Twitter.
A request for comment did not immediately get a response from the White House, while the DOJ declined to give any reaction.
Trump's travel ban
The Republican president insists his proposed ban, a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign, is necessary to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. Critics say the ban is discriminatory and the legal reasoning behind it flawed.
"The president's tweets may help encourage his base, but they can't help him in court,” said Jonathan Adler, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Indeed, the tweets may well hurt him in court, particularly one where he describes his executive order as a "travel ban," a description his aides - attuned to the legal ramifications - have disputed in the past.
He said on Twitter that others "can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!"
Undermining his own cause?
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at The George Washington University who has said the administration's immigration order is legal, said Trump's references to it as a "travel ban” in his tweets undermine the Justice Department's defense of it.
"Ironically, it makes more difficult the very thing that Trump was demanding: the reinstatement of his immigration order,” Turley said.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs - Hawaii and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - said the president was hurting his own legal case.
"It's kinda odd to have the defendant in Hawaii v Trump acting as our co-counsel," said Neal Katyal, who is representing Hawaii. "We don't need the help but will take it!"
bik/tj (AP, Reuters)