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Hearings for President Trump’s travel ban begin in the Supreme Court; Finland’s universal basic income experiment comes to an end.
Trump’s travel ban goes to court
- President Trump’s ever-evolving “travel ban” of citizens from seven countries (five of them majority Muslim) is one of the most controversial policies of his presidency. The ban had its day before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, and the justices’ questions during oral argument suggested the administration could win. [Vox / Dara Lind]
- The Court will likely rule by late June on the third iteration of the notorious policy. The first was struck down by lower courts, and the second expired in September. The current version, which has been in effect since early December, bars almost all travelers from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. [Reuters / Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung]
- Challengers say the ban is just a way for Trump to follow through on his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US. Its defenders argue that the courts should defer to the administration on matters of national security. [NYT / Adam Liptak and Michael Shear]
- Critics had hoped to sway at least one conservative justice to join the Court’s four-member liberal wing. But with swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy’s skeptical questioning of the ban’s challengers, that possibility seems more remote. [CNN / Ariane de Vogue and Saba Hamedy]
- While many of the bill’s challengers are advocating for immigrants’ rights, others see it as negative in a different way. A wide array of former national security experts argued in legal briefs that the ban makes the country less, not more, safe. They say the ban makes it harder to get information into the targeted countries, which makes it more difficult to fight ISIS and radical Islamists. [NPR / Nina Totenberg]
- This bill is about the future of immigration to the country. But it’s also about what the Supreme Court can and can’t weigh in on when it comes to national security, a domain that is usually left up to the president and Congress. [Washington Post / Amanda Frost]
- The extent to which this is a question of national security versus human rights is up to the courts. Justice Elena Kagan offered a hypothetical situation in which a future president who is “a vehement anti-Semite and says all kinds of denigrating comments about Jews” comes into office and bans entry to the United States from Israel. “This is an out-of-the-box kind of president in my hypothetical,” she said, to audible laughter in the courtroom. [Bloomberg / Greg Stohr]
- Hanging in the balance now are the fates of nearly 150 million residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. (Chad, also majority Muslim, was removed from the list of banned countries earlier this month. North Korea and Venezuela are not part of the legal battle.) Unless the Supreme Court stops the ban, it will remain in effect indefinitely. [USA Today / Richard Wolf]
Is universal basic income finished for the Finnish?
- Finland became the first European country to test a universal basic income back in January 2017, when the country randomly chose 2,000 unemployed citizens to give $685 a month. But the program won’t be extended after this year; the government has decided instead to find other ways to reform the Finnish social security system. [BBC / Laurence Peter]
- The data from the pilot program hasn’t been released yet. But in general, Finland appears to be moving away from no-strings-attached social insurance, threatening to cut benefits for unemployed people who aren’t looking for work or engaging in job training. [NYT / Peter S. Goodman]
- Basic income has been touted as a way to end poverty. But in Finland, which has one of the world’s lowest poverty rates and where health care and education are already paid for by the government, some argued the program is a little redundant — and paying for it would require an income tax hike of 30 percent. [OECD Economic Surveys]
- Basic income, a fringe idea a decade ago, now has pilot programs around the world. Vox’s Dylan Matthews wrote earlier this year about why he believes in the idea — and how its proponents can still oversell it. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
- More evidence that Amazon is subtly pervading every aspect of the human experience: The company will soon start offering in-car deliveries. [WSJ / Laura Stevens and Mike Colias]
- Not everyone working in the Trump administration is living large. Attorney General Jeff Sessions eats a turkey sandwich from the cafeteria for lunch every day. [NYT / Elizabeth Williamson]
- In Egypt, where being queer is still a crime, dating apps have become both a refuge and a way for police and blackmailers to find targets. [The Verge / Russell Brandom]
- After years of requests from users and activists, Facebook has finally published a guide to why the company removes certain pieces of content and not others. [Atlantic / Alexis Madrigal]
“We all care about the same thing: food on the table, a roof over our head. ... We have to be examples and folks have to demand that in their elected officials.” [Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd reflects on his impromptu 25-hour road trip with his Democratic colleague Rep. Beto O’Rourke, to the Dallas Morning News / Todd Gillman]