It might not be the Supreme Court, but when it comes to President Donald Trump's refugee ban, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit could prove just as powerful.

That is the court where lawyers for the Trump Administration and parties challenging the travel ban will face off today (noon NZT) presenting arguments for and against Trump's executive order barring entry to the US for refugees from around the world and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

A lower-court federal judge in Seattle put the ban on hold on Saturday. The Justice Department wants the policy enforced again immediately, arguing it is necessary for national security. Challengers, which include the states of Washington and Minnesota, a coalition of former national security officials and nearly 100 tech companies, view the ban as a discriminatory measure that will harm families and the economy without averting any real terrorist threat.

Today's arguments matter because the 9th Circuit's ruling could decide the fate of Trump's ban.


Here's how. Once the appeals court hears arguments today and makes its decision, the losing side is expected to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. Because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year and Republicans' subsequent refusal to confirm then-President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, the court remains one justice short with what some see as a 4-to-4 ideological split.

If the Supreme Court considers Trump's travel ban and splits 4 to 4 in its ruling, the decision of the appeals court stands.

Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is awaiting confirmation hearings. Republicans are hoping to confirm him by early April.

Meanwhile, Trump made an astonishing claim yesterday that the media is intentionally covering up terrorist attacks.

Speaking to military leaders at US Central Command in Florida, Trump offered no evidence to support his accusation.

"You've seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it's happening," he said. "It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that."

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer later tried to soften the comment. "He felt members of the media don't always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered," he told journalists on Air Force One.

The White House later released a list of terrorist incidents it called underreported, including last year's mass shooting in Orlando, and the 2015 attacks in Paris.


Trump also made waves with a tweet seeking to neutralise polls that reveal his approval ratings, saying that any negative polls are fake news.

The polls are historically low for this early point in his presidency.

Poll position

Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that any negative polls are fake news. Here's a look at what some of the polls said:

• His average approval rating is lower than his disapproval rating, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

• A CNN poll showed that 53% disapproved of his refugee ban executive order vs 47% who approved. A CBS News poll showed that Americans disapprove of it 51% to 45%. And Gallup showed 55% against and 42% for.

• The Gallup poll showed that Americans opposed his border wall, 60% to 38%.

• Gallup also showed they oppose halting the Syrian refugee programme, 58% to 36%.

• The CBS poll showed that people believed banning refugees went against the founding principles of the US, 57% to 35%.

• A Quinnipiac poll last week showed that people thought Trump would be a worse president than Barack Obama, 50% to 37%.