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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The most consequential legal challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban will proceed on two tracks in the next few days, including a U.S. appeals court vote that could reveal some judges who disagree with their colleagues on the bench and support the arguments behind the new president’s most controversial executive order.

In a Seattle federal courtroom, the state of Washington will attempt to probe the president’s motive in drafting his Jan. 27 order, while in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, judges will decide whether to reconsider an appeal in that same case decided last week.

Trump’s directive, which he said was necessary to protect the United States from attacks by Islamist militants, barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. Refugees were banned for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

The ban was backed by around half of Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, but triggered protests across the country and caused chaos at some U.S. and overseas airports.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspended the order after its legality was challenged by Washington state, eliciting a barrage of angry Twitter messages from Trump against the judge and the court system. That ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last week, raising questions about Trump’s next step.

At a Seattle court hearing on Monday, Robart said he would move forward with discovery in the case, meaning the request and exchange of information pertinent to the case between the opposing parties.

Meanwhile, an unidentified judge on the 9th Circuit last week requested that the court’s 25 full-time judges vote on whether the temporary restraining order imposed on Trump’s travel ban should be reconsidered by an 11-judge panel, known as en banc review. The 9th Circuit asked both sides to file briefs by Thursday.

Since judges appointed by Democrats hold an 18-7 edge on the 9th Circuit, legal experts say it is unlikely a majority will disagree with the court’s earlier ruling and want it reconsidered.

Arthur Hellman, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who has studied the 9th Circuit, noted that one of the three judges who issued the original ruling was appointed by George W. Bush.

Even if the en banc vote fails, however, judges on the 9th Circuit who disagree with last week’s ruling will be able to publicly express their disagreement in court filings, which could help create a record bolstering Trump’s position.

Meanwhile, the government has signaled that it is considering issuing a new executive order to replace the original one. In that case, it could tell the 9th Circuit later this week that it does not want en banc review, because the case would be moot.

“You would think Jeff Sessions would do whatever he had to do to get this case ended as soon as possible,” Hellman said, referring to the recently appointed U.S. attorney general.

IMAGE: Tareq Aziz (L) and his brother Ammar Aziz (2nd L), Yemeni nationals who were delayed entry into the U.S. because of the recent travel ban, smile as they are reunited with their family at Washington Dulles International Airport. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.