|President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries is the topic of arguments Wednesday at the Supreme Court, with a Trump administration lawyer facing questions during the first half of arguments.
The travel ban case is the last case the justices will hear until October.
A little over 20 minutes into arguments, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who was defending the ban, whether statements Trump made during the presidential campaign should be considered in evaluating the administration's ban. Francisco told the justices that they shouldn't look at Trump's campaign statements, which included a pledge to shut down Muslim entry into the U.S.
But Kennedy, whose vote is pivotal in cases that divide the court along ideological lines and whose vote the administration will almost certainly need to win, pressed Francisco on that point. Speaking of a hypothetical "local candidate," he asked if what was said during the candidate's campaign was irrelevant if on "day two" of his administration the candidate acted on those statements.
The Trump administration is asking the court to reverse lower court rulings striking down the ban. The policy has been fully in effect since December, but this is the first time the justices are considering whether it violates immigration law or the Constitution.
The court will consider whether the president can indefinitely keep people out of the country based on nationality. It will also look at whether the policy is aimed at excluding Muslims from the United States.
People have been waiting in line for a seat for days, and on Wednesday morning opponents of the ban demonstrated outside the court holding signs that read "No Muslim Ban. Ever." and "Refugees Welcome," among other things. In another sign of heightened public interest, the court is taking the rare step of making an audio recording of the proceedings available just hours after the arguments end. The last time the court did that was the gay marriage arguments in 2015.