The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday narrowly upheld the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on citizens of five majority-Muslim countries, handing President Donald Trump a victory in enforcing one of his most controversial policies.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the president has the Constitutional authority under U.S. immigration laws to limit travel from foreign countries on over national security concerns, as the Trump administration has repeatedly argued.
Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion, writing that Trump’s executive order restricting travel is “squarely within the scope of presidential authority.”
The president has “undoubtedly fulfilled” the requirement under the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act that the entry of the targeted aliens “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” Roberts wrote.
Roberts wrote that the plaintiffs in the case — the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, and three residents of the state — failed to demonstrate that the travel order “violates” the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars favoring one religion over another.
The decision was widely expected. On immigration and national security matters, the court has historically deferred to the executive branch of government. During oral arguments in the case in April, most justices appeared to embrace that tradition.
The court’s four liberal justices dissented.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the decision “all the more troubling given the stark parallels between the reasoning of this case and that of Korematsu v. United States,” the infamous 1944 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the U.S. government’s internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Under the so-called “travel ban,” issued in September after two earlier orders were blocked by courts, citizens of five Muslim countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as well as North Koreans and some individuals linked to the Venezuelan government — are barred from traveling to the United States. (The central African nation of Chad was initially included in the list but was later dropped).
The decision caps off 16 months of fraught court battles between an administration determined to defend the president’s travel order on national security grounds and opponents who decried it as an ideologically-driven ban on foreign Muslims.
In a statement, Trump called the ruling “a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution.”
“The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States,” Trump said. “In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country.”
Civil rights groups and immigrant advocates denounced the ruling but vowed to fight on.
Muslim Advocates, a Washington-based civil rights organization, said the court has affirmed “Trump’s bigoted Muslim ban” and “given a green light to religious discrimination and animus.”
“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 American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.
By JV Staff