Livestream: Ninth Circuit hears oral arguments on whether to reinstate Trump's travel ban

It’s Trump’s DOJ versus the state of Washington at 6 p.m. ET sharp. This hearing is devoted to the limited question of whether Judge Robart’s temporary restraining order against the travel ban should remain in place or be lifted while further hearings are pending, but the court may press the lawyers on the legal merits of the ban, both constitutional and statutory. After all, one of the DOJ’s core arguments against Robart’s ruling is that he claimed in his TRO that Washington state is likely to win its case against Trump — without ever explaining why.

To make its case, Washington State lawyers cherry-picked several Trump statements from the campaign to demonstrate alleged presidential intent to deprive Muslims abroad and in the U.S. of their constitutional rights.

The Justice Department responded in four different ways. First is the argument that no foreign national in a foreign country has U.S. constitutional rights to violate. Second is that the Trump executive order covers countries previously identified by Congress and the Obama administration as terrorist hot spots and is therefore not based on Trump’s alleged animus toward a particular religion. Third, the order does not target Muslims specifically. And fourth, and perhaps most importantly, it is not the role of a U.S. district judge to divine the president’s motives…

It’s widely understood that the president has broad powers in enforcing immigration law. That being so, how can Washington be so likely to prevail against Trump in the end as to justify a national TRO blocking the policy right now? That’s one of the questions that may come up here, along with less juicy law-nerd stuff about, for instance, standing. A bad omen for Team Trump: Today’s three-judge panel consists of a Bush appointee, an Obama appointee, and, er, a Carter appointee, befitting the Ninth Circuit’s liberal reputation. The odds of winning this skirmish are against the DOJ but there are many legal battles to come over the travel ban.

While we wait, a nifty catch from Nate Cohn for you to chew on. Compare these numbers from a Quinnipiac poll taken in early January, weeks before Trump’s travel ban order was signed…

…with these numbers, in response to an identical question, from a Quinnipiac poll taken today:

In the span of less than a month, already strong Republican support spiked, strong Democratic disapproval soared, and independents flipped from mildly supportive to decisively opposed. How come? Simple: Once Trump signed his travel ban order, the immigration policy described in the Quinnipiac question went from being a neutral policy to a Trump policy, with all the partisan hard feelings that implies. It reminds me of a poll I once saw years ago showing how Republican opinion turned more sour when you asked them about “ObamaCare” versus when you asked about the “Affordable Care Act.” Harry Enten noticed too: “Trump is suffering a similar problem that Obama did. Once he touches something it becomes polarized & since Trump is unpopular so is policy.” Perceptions of the travel ban are colored by partisan perceptions about Trump himself. Although his polling, while dismal according to some outlets, is probably understating his true political strength just as it did during the campaign.

Oh well. You know the rule: Any negative polls are fake news, so feel free to shut out any inconvenient information above. Here’s the livestream for the Ninth Circuit.