One of the most controversial things that Donald Trump did in the opening months of his presidency was his decision to institute a travel ban, vastly limiting travel from certain majority-Muslim countries. When he issued the first version of the ban, leftists across the nation swiftly challenged it in the courts, causing two revisions.
When the Trump administration issued the third revised ‘travel ban’ in September 2017, democrats challenged it once again, in multiple courts. Now, after nearly a year, the United States Supreme Court has ruled on the ban, and allowed it to stay in place. Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court ruled on a case titled Trump v. Hawaii. In a close 5-4 decision, the court upheld the travel ban, citing presidential authority and rejecting arguments about ‘religious’ wording in the ban.
Liberals fighting the orders claimed racism. However, there was nothing racist about limiting travel to America from terrorist countries, and the court knew it.
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2018
Firstly, he found that the right to create a ‘travel ban’ fell squarely within the powers of the presidency.
Roberts and the court also rejected the claim that the ban was motivated by religious hostility, and pointed out that the order by President Trump was premised on a legitimate purpose. That purpose, of course, is preventing foreigners from entering the country who can’t be properly vetted before entry.
As the Chief Justice pointed out, nowhere in the text of the travel ban did it make any mention of religion or religious affiliation.
Other nations that were included in the first ban, such as Chad, were dropped after legal challenges.
Neal Katyal, the attorney who represented Hawaii in this case, said that he was disappointed in the decision SCOTUS handed down. However, he said that he was also “heartened” that the system built by the founding fathers worked as intended, and that he hoped Congress would “do its job” and reverse the ban somehow.
That seems like a hollow statement, as the President’s power to act is at its greatest when exercising powers given to him by law, such as the power to impose travel bans.
The basis of Hawaii’s legal claim against the ban was their allegation that the nations impacted were placed on the list due to religious prejudice. The state’s attorney noted that a majority of the nations covered by the ban had majority-Muslim populations.
While arguing the case in court, Katyal even cited Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, and claimed that the ban’s list amounted to a de facto “Muslim ban.”
However, the court disagreed, and they pointed out that the issue he brought before the court was not whether to support or denounce President Trump’s statements.
As Chief Justice Roberts stated in his decision, the Justices had to not only consider statements that the President made in the past, but also the legal authority vested in the position.
The federal government argued in court that if the purpose of the ban was to keep Muslims from traveling to the United States, then the restrictions set up were “the most ineffective Muslim ban that one could possibly imagine.”
In his opinion, Roberts concurred with that point, and noted that though five countries listed by the ban had Muslim majorities, that fact alone did not support claims of religious hostility. He also pointed out that the five ‘Muslim’ countries on the list made up a whopping 8 percent of the world’s adherents to the Mohammedan religion.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is in keeping with past rulings concerning the President’s power to impose travel bans. Generally, Presidents have relied on Article II of the Constitution to back up this power.
In 1950, the Supreme Court said that the “exclusion of aliens is a fundamental act of sovereignty,” and that it is inherently the realm of the executive branch of government.
In 1952, Congress adopted a provision which stated that the President could, “by proclamation,” for any period that they find necessary, suspend entry to any (or all) aliens or class of aliens.
What this means is that, legally, speaking, both the legislative and judicial branches of the United States government recognize that it is President Donald Trump who has the power to set travel bans.
This ruling suggests that other, similar cases still in lower courts are not likely to fare any better, and it brings the travel ban one step closer to being actually implemented as the law of the land.