U.S. police forces experiment with cameras mounted on guns

KING CITY, Calif. (Reuters) – Amid demands for more police transparency after the killing of George Floyd, U.S. police departments are experimenting with a new way of capturing potentially deadly moments: putting small cameras on their guns.

The police department in King City, California last month became the state’s first force to mandate cameras on all its officers’ handguns.

“With (the) public’s responses to officer-involved shootings, I really felt it was important to have that perspective of what the officer most likely can see and the best point of view to see that from is the barrel of the handgun,” said Robert Masterson, King City police chief.

The cameras, about the size of a thumb, are mounted along a rail on the bottom of a firearm’s barrel and automatically record when the gun is drawn from the holster.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2016, almost half of U.S. law enforcement agencies had acquired body-worn cameras. The use of gun-mounted cameras, however, is far less common and the numbers less known.

Minnesota-based Viridian Weapon Technologies, said more than 500 agencies across 47 states are in various stages of trialing or implementing its gun-camera system, which is aimed at supplementing images from police body cameras.

The gun camera was used in a case in Texas earlier this year to prosecute a suspect who became involved in a shootout with an officer in April 2019. Video from the body camera showed the officer’s arms in front holding the gun, whereas video from the gun camera showed the pistol’s point-of-view.

The gun camera would not be useful in cases of alleged police brutality where a gun is not drawn, and Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, warned that there were limitations to the technology,

“Even when a gun is drawn, they’re not going to capture the context of events leading up to the point where the officer draws their gun and often that is the most crucial part in evaluating an officer’s action and whether that was abusive or professional,” he said.

(Reporting by Nathan Frandino; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

U.S. civil rights groups protest ‘out-of-touch’ Justice Department police commission

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prominent U.S. civil rights groups are refusing to appear before a Justice Department law enforcement commission set up to recommend ways to increase respect for police and reduce crime, calling it out of touch with public anger over policing.

The Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice was established in January, before the latest wave of mass protests over police use of force against Black Americans set off by the May killing of George Floyd.

Its mission statement did not mention racial disparities in criminal justice or address excessive use of force by police, and unlike a similar Obama administration commission, its members represent only federal, state and local law enforcement, with no civil rights advocates, defense attorneys or even big-city police departments taking part.

Civil rights leaders told Reuters they only received invitations to testify after the NAACP Legal Defense Fund sued the commission in April, contending it was violating federal open-meeting laws and lacked diverse viewpoints. That case is pending, and the Justice Department has asked a federal judge to have it dismissed.

“It is so completely out of touch with what is happening,” said Kanya Bennett, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

After the protests over Floyd’s death began, the commission held some hearings about the excessive use of force and community policing, but they were announced with little advanced warning and were closed to the public. President Donald Trump has struck a strict “law-and-order” tone in his response to the protests.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the commission would be addressing the issues outlined in a police reform executive order signed by Trump in June including “accreditation and how to assist law enforcement and communities in their response to homelessness, addiction and mental health.”

The commission is expected to release a report in October offering recommendations for decreasing crime, addressing mental health and homelessness issues, and promoting respect for police officers.

‘SHAM COMMISSION’

U.S. civil rights groups including the ACLU have refused to attend the hearings, submitting only written testimony.

“The ACLU is not going to participate in a sham commission that was formed for the sole purpose of promoting a ‘blue lives matter’ narrative,” Bennett said.

Commission Chairman Phil Keith said at a June meeting that of the nearly 30 civil rights and other advocacy groups invited to testify, only a handful accepted, including the North Carolina-based Racial Equity Institute and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

Deena Hayes-Greene, a co-founder of the Racial Equity Institute, said she learned other groups had declined invitations at the meeting she attended. Norman Reimer, executive director of the NACDL, said he was cynical about the commission but thought it was important to express his group’s views.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund said it had not received an invitation to participate.

The commission “fails to consider … the long and fraught history of police community relations, especially in Black and brown communities and the nexus between unconstitutional policing and the violations of civil rights,” said Sakira Cook, director of the justice reform program with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Peter Cooney)

ACLU, Planned Parenthood sue over Alabama abortion ban

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Flag and Alabama State Flag fly over the Alabama Governor's Mansion as the state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging a law enacted by Alabama last week that bans nearly all abortions and makes performing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison.

The lawsuit is one of several the groups have filed or are preparing to file against states that recently passed strict anti-abortion measures in an effort to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that guarantees a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.

“This dangerous, immoral, and unconstitutional ban threatens people’s lives and well-being and we are suing to protect our patients’ rights,” Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

The ACLU’s Alabama chapter and Planned Parenthood of America filed their complaint in federal court in Alabama on behalf of the Southern state’s three abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Anti-abortion advocates expected legal challenges to Alabama’s new law, which will be the most restrictive in the nation when it takes effect in November, and say they welcome the chance to have a court test their conviction that a fetus’ right to life is paramount.

Also on Friday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill into law that bans abortion beginning in the eighth week of pregnancy.

Earlier this year, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio outlawed abortion after a doctor can detect an embryonic heartbeat, which can occur at six weeks, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

The wave of anti-abortion legislation reflects a boost of confidence among anti-abortion advocates after Republican President Donald Trump nominated two conservative judges, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to the U.S. Supreme Court, tilting the court’s political balance to the right.

Alabama state Senator Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, supports his state’s new law and said the whole point of the ban was “so that we can go directly to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe versus Wade.”

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood obtained an injunction from a judge in Kentucky in March, blocking that state’s abortion ban. The organizations have filed lawsuits in Ohio and are preparing to do so in Georgia, they said in a statement on Friday.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan Oatis)

Missouri governor expected to sign new abortion restrictions into law

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with the Governor of Missouri Mike Parson as he arrives in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) – Missouri’s Republican governor could sign a law as early as this week banning most abortions in the Midwestern state after the eighth week of pregnancy, part of a wave of restrictions aimed at driving a challenge of abortion to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republican Governor Mike Parson told reporters on Friday he planned to sign the bill, which was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature last week and would enact one of the United States’ most restrictive bans. He did not set a date for the signing but has until July 14 to do so, according to local media reports.

The state is one of eight where Republican-controlled legislatures this year have passed new restrictions on abortion. It is part of a coordinated campaign aimed at prompting the nation’s now conservative-majority top court to cut back or overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

The most restrictive of those bills was signed into law in Alabama last week. It bans abortion at all times and in almost all cases, including when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest but allows exceptions when the mother’s life is in danger. The Missouri bill also offers no exception for cases of rape or incest.

The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will sue to block Alabama’s law from taking effect. Last week, the ACLU joined Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive healthcare provider, in suing Ohio over its recent six-week abortion ban.

Abortion is one of the most bitterly contested social issues in the United States. Opponents often cite religious belief in saying that fetuses deserve rights similar to those of infants. Abortion rights advocates say the bans deprive women of equal rights and endanger those who end up seeking riskier, illegal methods to end a pregnancy.

Kentucky, Georgia, Utah, Mississippi and Arkansas have also passed new restrictions on abortion this year.

Conservative lawmakers have been emboldened in their efforts to roll back Roe v. Wade by two judicial appointments by President Donald Trump that have given conservatives a 5-4 majority on the court.

The Supreme Court could act as early as Monday on appeals seeking to revive two abortion restrictions enacted in Indiana in 2016.

Abortion rights activists on Sunday marched on the Alabama state capital in Birmingham to protest that state’s new law, which would take effect in two months.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. attorney general issues order to speed up immigrant deportations

Women from the Dominican Republic are apprehended by the border patrol for illegally crossing into the U.S. border from Mexico in Los Ebanos, Texas, U.S., August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday sought to speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants, telling immigration judges they should only postpone cases in removal proceedings “for good cause shown.”

Sessions, in an interim order that was criticized by some lawyers, said the “good-cause” standard “limits the discretion of immigration judges and prohibits them from granting continuances for any reason or no reason at all.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes part in a Federal Commission on School Safety meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes part in a Federal Commission on School Safety meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Unlike the federal judiciary system, U.S. immigration courts fall under the Department of Justice and the attorney general can intervene. Sessions, a Republican former U.S. Senator appointed by President Donald Trump, has been unusually active in this practice compared to his predecessors.

Sessions has led efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant parents from their children while they were in U.S. detention. Trump abandoned the separation policy in June under political pressure.

Critical in showing “good cause” is whether a person is likely to succeed in efforts to remain in the United States, either by appealing for asylum or receiving some form of visa or work permit, Sessions said on Thursday.

Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU immigrants rights project, described Sessions’ order as “troubling” and one of a series that “has moved in the direction of restricting due process rights for individuals who are in removal proceedings.”

Kang said Sessions seemed to portray immigrants seeking more time to prepare their cases as trying to “game the system and avoid deportation.”

Kang said removal proceedings were complex and people needed time “both to get lawyers to ensure that their due process rights are protected and time just to make sure their cases get a fair hearing.”

The Justice Department has been struggling to reduce a backlog of deportation cases. An analysis by the Government Accountability Office last year found the number of cases that drag on from one year to the next more than doubled between 2006 and 2015, mainly because fewer cases are completed per year.

Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said more immigration judges had been hired, but “unnecessary and improper continuances … continue to plague the immigration court system and contribute to the backlog.”

Sessions said on Thursday that the “use of continuances as a dilatory tactic is particularly pernicious in the immigration context” because people in the country illegally who want to remain have an incentive to delay their deportation as long as possible.

Granting continuances solely for good cause would be an “important check on immigration judges’ authority” and demonstrate public interest in “expeditious enforcement of the immigration laws,” Sessions said.

(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)

U.S. to reunite only half of young migrant children by Tuesday deadline

FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children now housed in a tent encampment under the new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration are shown walking in single file at the facility near the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By Marty Graham and Tom Hals

SAN DIEGO/WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – The U.S. government is struggling to reunite immigrant families it separated at the border with Mexico and only about half the children under age 5 will be back with their parents by a court-ordered deadline of Tuesday, a government attorney told a judge on Monday.

U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego last month ordered the government to reunite the approximately 100 children under the age of 5 by Tuesday, and the estimated 2,000 older children by July 26.

Sarah Fabian, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, said 54 children younger than 5 would be reunited with parents by the end of Tuesday, and the number could increase depending on background checks.

The other parents have either been deported, failed a criminal background check, were unable to prove they were the parent or had been released and immigration agents had been unable to contact them, said Fabian.

The children were separated under U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that called for the prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally. The separations were in place from early May until Trump stopped the practice last month in the face of intense criticism.

Trump made cracking down on illegal immigration a key part of his presidential campaign in 2016.

The judge directed the government to file a detailed accounting of the reunification process and scheduled a hearing for Tuesday at 11 a.m. PDT (1800 GMT).

Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case, said he did not think the government was complying with the reunification order.

“It is very troubling that there are children and parents who are not in some kind of government tracking system,” he said after the court hearing. He added that nonprofit groups were trying to find parents the government had failed to locate, who are mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

He also questioned if the government’s list of children under the age of 5 was accurate.

Gelernt added, however, that he believed the government had made “significant” steps in the past 48 hours to unite parents with their children, and he called the effort “a blueprint for going forward with the remaining more than 2,000 families.”

Fabian told the judge that once parents and children were reunited, they would likely be released from immigration custody. A legal settlement dating from the 1990s only allows the government to detain children in adult centers for a brief period.

Gelernt said the ACLU was concerned that parents would be put on the street without any money in an unfamiliar city.

The organization and government agreed the locations of the releases would not be disclosed, and the government agreed to work with immigration advocates to ensure the parents had money for a hotel and other necessities.

(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)

U.S. judge orders migrant families to be reunited

A Honduran family seeking asylum waits on the Mexican side of the Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge after being denied entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., June 26, 2018. Picture taken June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

By Jonathan Stempel and Doina Chiacu

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge has blocked the Trump administration from separating immigrant parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border, and ordered that those who were separated be reunited within 30 days.

The nationwide injunction issued late Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego will not be the final word on a heated battle over the treatment of immigrant families who cross the border illegally. A government appeal is likely.

Sabraw’s preliminary injunction also requires the government to reunite children under the age of five with their parents within 14 days, and let children talk with their parents within 10 days.

More than 2,300 migrant children were separated from their parents as a result of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that began in early May and sought to prosecute all adults crossing the border without authorization, including those traveling with children.

The separations sparked widespread condemnation in the United States, including from within President Donald Trump’s own Republican Party, and abroad.

Although Trump issued an executive order on June 20 to end the family separations, the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the San Diego case, said it contained “loopholes” and did little to fix the problem. Some 2,000 children remain separated.

Sabraw, an appointee of former Republican President George W. Bush, rebuked the administration.

“The facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making,” he wrote. “They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.”

The White House had no immediate comment.

LAYING BLAME

In opposing a preliminary injunction, the government had argued that Trump’s executive order “largely” addressed the concerns of the ACLU.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a Senate hearing earlier on Tuesday that most separated children could not be reunited until the Republican-led Congress passed necessary legislation.

He also laid blame for the problem on the families, saying that “if the parents didn’t bring them across illegally, this would never happen.”

The ACLU hailed Sabraw’s decision.

“This victory will be bring relief to all the parents and children who thought they may never see each other again,” ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said in an email. “It is a complete victory.”

Sabraw ruled several hours after 17 generally Democratic-leaning states and Washington, D.C. sued the Trump administration in Seattle federal court over the family separations, calling them “cruel” and motivated by “animus.”

LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION

After issuing his executive order, Trump called last week on Congress to pass legislation that addressed immigration issues. But although Republicans control Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix to the border crisis.

An immigration bill favored by conservative Republicans failed to pass the House last week. The House planned to vote on Wednesday on a broad immigration bill that would bar the separation of children from their parents at the southern border

In a Twitter post written in capital letters throughout, Trump said House Republicans should pass the bill, even though he said Democrats would stop it from passing in the Senate, where Republicans have a slimmer majority.

“PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS AND SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME,” the president wrote on Twitter.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday he would not rule out the possibility of bringing a vote on a narrower bill addressing only the detention of immigrant families, if the broader bill did not pass.

The ACLU had sued on behalf of a mother and her then 6-year-old daughter, who were separated for four months after entering the country to seek asylum and flee religious persecution in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ACLU case is Ms. L et al v U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, No. 18-00428.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Alison Frankel in New York; Yasmeen Abutaleb and Doina Chiacu in Washington, D.C.; Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Trial to begin over Kansas voter ID law requiring citizenship proof

FILE PHOTO: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks about the Kansas voter ID law that he pushed to combat what he believes to be rampant voter fraud in the United States in his office in Topeka, Kansas, U.S., on May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup/File Photo

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Reuters) – A trial over a Kansas law critics call illegal that requires proof of U.S citizenship from people registering to vote is set to begin on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in February 2016 in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argues that the state law violates the National Voter Registration Act by requiring voters who do not have a driver’s license to show documents like a birth certificate or U.S. passport for voter registration. It is one of numerous voter ID laws passed by Republican-led state legislatures in recent years.

Democrats have argued that ID laws target voters who typically support the Democratic Party, such as the young and minorities. Proponents of the measures have said they are intended to prevent voter fraud.

Each side in the case will present opening statements on Tuesday, followed by an expected five or more days of testimony. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson will hear the case.

In May 2016, Robinson temporarily blocked enforcement of the law pending outcome of the trial. The law first went into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

The chief defendant in the case, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has said the law is intended to prevent voter fraud.

A lawyer and candidate for Kansas governor, Kobach has said a lack of required documentation could allow thousands of non-Americans to vote in Kansas, potentially canceling out the votes of citizens. Kobach will serve as lead lawyer for the state.

Kobach, a Republican, served on a commission appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump to investigate voter fraud. Trump contended that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election that he won. The commission was shut down in January.

The ACLU said that the law had blocked more than 35,000 Kansans from registering to vote between 2013 and 2016.

Lawmakers in 23 states have imposed new voting restrictions since 2010, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

This year, six states have introduced bills imposing photo identification requirements for voting, and bills have been put forward in Kentucky and New Hampshire to make existing voter identification laws more restrictive, the Center said.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Ben Klayman and Rosalba O’Brien)

Hawaii, ACLU ask U.S. top court not to allow full Trump travel ban

Hawaii, ACLU ask U.S. top court not to allow full Trump travel ban

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The state of Hawaii and the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to allow President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban that would bar entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into full effect after it was partially blocked by lower courts.

Lawyers for the Democratic-governed state and the civil liberties group, pursuing separate legal challenges to the ban, were responding to the Trump administration’s request last week that the conservative-majority court allow the ban to go into effect completely while litigation over the policy continues.

Both sets of challengers said the latest ban, Trump’s third, discriminates against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution and is not permissible under immigration laws.

The Republican president has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism by Muslim militants. As a candidate, Trump had promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

In the ACLU court filing, its lawyers said the administrative process that led to the latest ban “does not wipe away the history of the president’s efforts to ban Muslims, especially given the remarkable similarity between the current ban and its predecessors.”

On Nov. 13, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the ban to go partly into effect while the litigation continued, lifting part of a Hawaii-based district court judge’s nationwide injunction.

Separately, a judge in Maryland partly blocked the ban on similar lines in the case spearheaded by the ACLU.

The Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in both cases. The high court could act at any time.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, the two cases will continue in lower courts. The 9th Circuit and the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both are due to hear oral arguments on the merits of the challenges next week.

Trump’s ban was announced on Sept. 24 and replaced two previous versions that had been impeded by federal courts.

The ban currently applies to people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad who do not have connections to the United States. Those with certain family relationships and other formal connections to the United States, such as through a university, can enter the country.

The ban also covers people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, and lower courts have allowed those provisions to go into effect.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

Supreme Court tosses one of two travel ban challenges

FILE PHOTO - An international traveler arrives after U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out an appeals court ruling that struck down President Donald Trump’s previous temporary travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations countries that has now expired.

In a one-page order, the court acted in one of two cases pending before the nine justices over Trump’s travel ban, a case from Maryland brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to stop the ban contained in a March executive order.

For now, the court did not act on a separate challenge brought by the state of Hawaii, which the court had also agreed to hear. That case also features a challenge to a separate 120-day refugee ban, which has not yet expired.

That case could yet be dismissed once the refugee ban expires on Oct. 24, meaning the court remains unlikely to issue a final ruling on whether the ban was lawful.

The justices were unanimous in deciding against ruling in the Maryland case, although one of the liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor, noted that she would not have wiped out the appeals court ruling.

The justices had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Tuesday, but removed it from their calendar after Trump’s 90-day ban expired on Sept. 24 and was replaced with a reworked ban.

The expired ban had targeted people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The new open-ended ban, scheduled to take effect on Oct. 18, removed Sudan from the list while blocking people from Chad and North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela from entering the United States.

The Trump administration has urged the court to dismiss both cases while the challengers have asked the justices to rule on the issue.

The Supreme Court in June agreed to take up the two cases and allowed the travel ban, which had been blocked by lower courts, to go into effect with certain changes.

Among the issues raised is whether the travel ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring or disfavoring a particular religion.

The new ban, Trump’s third including one issued in January that was blocked by lower courts, could affect tens of thousands of potential immigrants and visitors to the United States. Opponents have already challenged it in court.

Trump had promised as a candidate “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Leslie Adler)