The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark victory for the Trump administration on Tuesday, ruling that the White House had the authority to limit travel into the United States from a short list of Muslim-majority countries.
‘SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!’ the president tweeted in response to the win.
Trump’s authority to determine who may come into the country is ‘squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA,’ Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 5-4 majority opinion, referring to the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
That, the justices declared, makes a lower court’s preliminary injunction stopping the travel ban ‘an abuse of discretion’ that won’t stand.
How the White House reacted: Trump’s tweet comes after months of challenges to his ban
Controversial: The travel ban on a series of majority-Muslim countries was imposed suddenly and generated huge protests – but has been ruled legal by the Supreme Court
Victory: Trump was given cause to celebrate by the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, which said he did have legal authority to apply the travel ban
Roberts wrote that Trump’s proclamation, issued shortly after his inauguration, was ‘expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices.’
‘The text says nothing about religion,’ he added.
Writing for himself and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, Roberts also noted that the Trump travel ban did not apply to Iraq, ‘one of the largest predominately Muslim countries in the region.’
‘The policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population,’ he wrote, ‘and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.’
COUNTRIES CAUGHT IN THE TRAVEL BAN
- North Korea
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote, issued a separate two-page opinion agreeing with them but pointing a finger of caution at the White House.
‘There are numerous instances in which the statements and actions of Government officials are not subject to judicial scrutiny or intervention. That does not mean those officials are free to disregard the Constitution and the rights it proclaims and protects,’ Kennedy wrote.
The majority found that the president acted after a ‘worldwide review process’ by many Cabinet agencies,’ and decided not to quibble with its results even though they were just 18 pages long.
The case decided Tuesday signals that much of Trump’s immigration policy – stemming from his campaign promise to tightly control the nation’s borders – is passing key legal tests.
The third and final iteration of the travel-ban policy applied to foreign nations from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
The African nation of Chad was initially included but later removed from the list in April and dropped from the list of affected countries two months ago.
The Court determined that the administration ‘set forth a sufficient national security justification’ to survive a review of whether there was a ‘rational basis’ for Trump’s travel ban.
But the five-justice majority cautioned: ‘We express no view on the soundness of the policy. We simply hold today that plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claim.’
Opponents of the travel ban argued that it bore parallels to the World War II-era forcible relocation of Japanese-Americans to concentration camps on the basis of their race.
‘This is a dark day for America,’ Califorrnia Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee (center) complained Tuesday morning, saying the Supreme Court decision would be remembered as ‘a stain on our nation and an abdication of our fundamental American values’
That practice was ‘objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority,’ the justices wrote, but Trump’s policy was ‘neutral’ on its face – a decision ‘denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission.’
The travel ban, they added, was ‘well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President.’
In a dissenting opinion, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said there were ‘stark parallels’ with the court’s now discredited 1944 decision that upheld the internment camps.
After cataloguing Trump’s campaign statements that were seen as anti-Muslim, she concluded: ‘Taking all the evidence together, a reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus.’
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a scathing statement condemning what it called Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’
‘This is not the first time the Court has been wrong, or has allowed official racism and xenophobia to continue rather than standing up to it,’ the group said.
‘History has its eyes on us – and will judge today’s decision harshly.’
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker told CNN that other judicial decisions will serve to keep Trump in check and ‘dilute’ his actions in the future
Trump’s victory came nearly 17 months after he first stunned Americans by closing America’s borders to people from seven countries
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement that he agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
‘Congress has long delegated to the president the authority to regulate the entry of people into the United States, particularly from war-torn countries or well-known state sponsors of terrorism,’ he said.
‘The Court has rightly upheld this common-sense, longstanding practice, which I hope will end once and for all the tortured reasoning of liberal judges who make up new legal doctrines because they personally disapprove of the president.’
Trump opponents in Congress pulled no punches.
‘This is a dark day for America,’ Califorrnia Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee complained, saying the decision would be remembered as ‘a stain on our nation and an abdication of our fundamental American values.’
Delaware Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons insisted that the travel ban was, indeed, a form of religious bigotry.
It’s ‘is not only discriminatory and counterproductive,’ he said, but also ‘stands in direct contrast to the principles embedded in our Constitution and our founders’ vision of a nation where all people are free to worship as they choose.’
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker told CNN that other judicial decisions will serve to keep Trump in check.
‘Thank God we are not a nation of tyranny,’ he said, ‘because the president has tried multiple times and his efforts have been diluted by the court system.’
The state of Hawaii, arguing against the travel ban, claimed it was motivated by religious discrimination.
Candidate Trump had at one point called for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.’
But President Trump’s lawyer, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, argued before the Supreme Court that if his travel ban had been conceived as a ban on Muslims, ‘it would be the most ineffective Muslim ban that one could possibly imagine.’
‘Not only does it exclude the vast majority of the Muslim world, it also omits three Muslim-majority countries that were covered by past orders, including Iraq, Chad, and Sudan,’ Francisco said.
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