President Donald Trump's travel and immigration ban is back in court this week. The only trouble is the case is still in the wrong court. The American people need to get the clarity on this issue, and only the U.S. Supreme Court can provide it.
Right now, the case is before a 13-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. (The full circuit is actually 15 judges, but 2 judges have recused themselves.) Ten of the judges were appointed by Democrats and three by Republicans. Next week it will be heard in the very liberal 9th Circuit Court in Seattle. Both the 4th and 9th Circuit Courts are either the most liberal, or among the most liberal courts in the country.
That's the first part of the problem. It's not so much that these courts are so liberal, it's the accepted fact that they're so easily identifiable along ideological lines. But it would be no better for a deeply divided America if this case was heard before a court with a very conservative bent.
The second part of the problem is that cases like this need to be held up to the most scrutiny and be heard by the most accountable judges in the legal system. With all due respect to the fame and accountability lower federal court judges have in the legal community, they are relatively anonymous in the wider sphere of American public life.
And that brings us to the highest court of the land. On both of the above criteria, the U.S. Supreme Court passes the test. On partisanship, the high court is much more balanced than the 4th, 9th or any other circuit court in America.
Even with the recent confirmation of decidedly conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court is only weighted in favor of conservatives by a razor thin 5-4 margin. And that number isn't ironclad, as we all learned in 2012 when the supposedly conservative-tipped court upheld Obamacare in the famed decision by Chief Justice John Roberts. This is probably the hardest major court in America to definitively label along partisan lines.