Neal Katyal, the Indian immigrant lawyer taking on Donald Trump's travel ban in US Supreme Court

Neal Katyal, the Indian immigrant lawyer representing challengers of the Donald Trump-led travel ban which faces its reckoning in the US Supreme Court today, once argued for the White House when he was acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama. Now he’s on the other side.

Neal Katyal is representing the challengers in the travel ban case being heard in US Supreme Court. Reuters

Neal Katyal is representing challengers in the travel ban case being heard in US Supreme Court 25 April. Reuters

In the last ( and biggest) case before October, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments Wednesday over President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries where Solicitor General Noel Francisco is defending the ban.

Katyal, on his Twitter feed, has a steady flow of summary arguments against the Trump travel ban, posting it in chronological order.

"The arguments come from every corner of our country. They are both logical and emotional, constitutional and statutory, liberal and conservative. It comes down to who we are as a nation", Katyal tweeted hours before his final stand in America's highest court.

Katyal's engagement with Trump's travel ban is not new; it began minutes after the US President brought it on in early 2017 via an executive order restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Within 24 hours of the executive order last year, Katyal had Apple, Netflix and Facebook on his side, signing on amicus brief opposing the ban. Amicus briefs are legal documents filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in subject matter. These briefs typically advise the court of relevant context and arguments that inform the case.

Katyal graduated from Dartmouth College in 1991 and went on to become one of Georgetown Law School’s youngest-ever professors at age 27. From that time till now, Katyal describes himself with a two-word tag line - "extremist centrist".

Katyal, now a tenured professor at Georgetown University, has worked on rules governing Department of Justice appointment of special prosecutors. He was also lead counsel for the 2006 case Hamdan versus Rumsfeld which got rid of military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. Apart from his teaching job, Katyal is partner at Hogan Lovells lawfirm and runs a nonprofit - Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection created in 2017 in response to the Trump effect on society and politics.

Katyal's challenge to the travel ban is the first one by his young nonprofit to make it all the way to America's highest court.

The US Supreme Court previously voted in December to allow the travel ban policy to take full effect. But Wednesday was the first time the justices considered the travel ban in open court. Last heard on the beat, arguments are breaking down on "ideological" lines, reporters are relaying back to US networks.

President Donald Trump appears likely to win his travel ban case at the Supreme Court, reports Associated Press shortly before noon EST.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy both signaled support for the travel policy in arguments Wednesday at the high court. The ban's challengers almost certainly need one of those two justices to strike down the ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries.


Updated Date: Apr 25, 2018 21:11 PM

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