- U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Suspension Of Trump Travel Ban
President Donald Trump suffered a legal blow on Thursday when a federal appeals court refused to reinstate his executive order temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Trump administration failed to offer any evidence that national security concerns justified immediately restoring the ban, which he launched two weeks ago.
Shortly after the court issued its 29-page ruling, Trump tweeted: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” He told reporters his administration ultimately would win the case and dismissed the ruling as “political.”
The 9th Circuit ruling, upholding last Friday’s decision by U.S. District Judge James Robart to suspend the order, does not resolve the lawsuit. It relates only to whether to lift an emergency halt to Trump’s order put in place by a lower court.
Trump, a Republican who took office on Jan. 20, faces long odds in getting the ban restored while litigation over his executive order proceeds. To ultimately win, the Justice Department will have to present evidence that people from those countries represent a domestic threat, legal experts said.
In its ruling on Thursday, the 9th Circuit said the government had so far failed to show that any person from the seven countries had perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.
Trump’s Jan. 27 order, the most divisive action of his young presidency, sparked protests and chaos at U.S. and overseas airports on the weekend after it was issued. It was challenged by the states of Washington and Minnesota, which argued it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.
The Justice Department, which spoke for the administration at oral argument on Tuesday, said it was reviewing Thursday’s decision and considering its options.
Asked about Trump’s tweet, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said: “We have seen him in court twice, and we’re two for two.”
Trump says his executive order aims to head off attacks by Islamist militants. He has voiced frustration at the legal challenge to his order, calling Robart a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” opinion “essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country.”
The 9th Circuit judges said more legal arguments would be needed to decide the actual fate of Trump’s order.
While the court said it could not decide whether the order discriminated against a particular religion until the case had been “fully briefed,” it added that the states had presented evidence of “numerous statements” by the president “about his intent to implement a ‘Muslim ban.’”
The administration argued that the courts do not have access to the same classified information about threats to the country that the president does. The judges countered that “courts regularly receive classified information under seal.”
The three judges said the states had shown that even temporary reinstatement of the ban would cause harm.
FINAL OUTCOME ‘NOT CERTAIN’
Curbing entry to the United States as a national security measure was a central premise of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, originally proposed as a temporary ban on all Muslims.
U.S. presidents have in the past claimed sweeping powers to fight terrorism, but the 9th Circuit on Thursday wrote that courts have the authority to review whether the president violated the Constitution.
Two of the three 9th Circuit judges were appointees of former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and one was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush.
The government has 14 days to ask the 9th Circuit to have a larger panel of judges review the decision “en banc,” or appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will likely determine the case’s final outcome.
But it would need five of the eight justices to vote in favor of suspending the travel ban during litigation. That is likely to be a tall order as the court is evenly divided 4-4 between liberals and conservatives, meaning the administration would need to win over at least one of the liberal justices.
Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News: “It’s an interim ruling and we’re fully confident that now that we will get our day in court and have an opportunity to argue this on the merits we will prevail.”
Asked if the administration would go to the Supreme Court, she said: “I can’t comment on that. … He will be conferring with the lawyers and make that decision.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said Trump’s policies “still pose a threat to communities of color, religious minorities, women, and others.”
Democrats, the minority party in Congress, celebrated.
“This Administration’s recklessness has already done significant harm to families, and undermined our fight against terror,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in an emailed statement.
But Tom Fitton from the conservative group Judicial Watch said on Twitter: “The Ninth Circuit ruling is a dangerous example of judicial overreach.”
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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