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How Trump’s travel ban ended up at the Supreme Court

President Trump's bid to bar travel from five Muslim-majority countries went before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Justices heard arguments on the third version of the ban, which the state of Hawaii argued is unconstitutionally discriminatory. Jeffrey Brown looks back on how it ended up at the high court.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now it's up to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Trump's bid to bar travel from mostly Muslim nations went before the justices today.

    Jeffrey Brown begins our coverage.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Crowds of protesters grew outside the Supreme Court, as inside, the justices heard arguments on the third version of President Trump's travel ban.

    The state of Hawaii challenged the policy, and argued it unconstitutionally discriminates against people from five Muslim-majority countries.

  • Neal Katyal:

    Can we have a president that says, in the terms he has, things like, a complete and total shutdown of Muslim immigration should happen in our United States? Our nation was founded on a different premise.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The challenge cited then-candidate Trump's own words from 2015, after terrorist attacks in France.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Later, as president, Mr. Trump also re-tweeted anti-Muslim posts from Britain. Regardless, the Justice Department argued today the ban is not based on religion.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders followed up.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    The focus of this travel ban has been on safety and security. It's limited to a small number of countries.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The issue has followed a winding course for more than a year. President Trump signed his first travel ban order one week after taking office. It blocked most people from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria from entering the United States for 90 days, and indefinitely banned entry for all Syrian refugees.

    Chaos erupted at airports where newly arriving travelers were detained, followed by a wave of protests.

  • Sally Yates:

    I made a determination that I believed that it was unlawful.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to defend the ban, and President Trump quickly fired her. Eventually, key provisions of the policy were blocked in federal courts, after Washington and three other states filed suit.

    Less than a month later, the Trump administration announced a second travel order. It included six of the same Muslim-majority countries, but left out Iraq. It also dropped the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, and allowed individuals with valid visas to enter the country.

    That version, too, was largely blocked by a federal judge, this time in Hawaii.

  • President Donald Trump:

    An unprecedented judicial overreach.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    The administration again appealed, and the president lashed out.

    In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court said the second travel ban could take effect while it waited to hear the case. Then, in September 2017, President Trump announced a third order, as the second was set to expire.

    This time, it included five of the Muslim-majority countries from the second ban, while adding Chad, North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela. Chad was eventually dropped from the list.

    Hawaii, among other states, went back to court. Last December, the Supreme Court allowed this latest version of the ban to take effect, pending today's arguments and a final decision. That decision is expected by June.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we will hear some of today arguments before the Supreme Court right after the news summary.

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