Supreme Court re­vives Trump’s travel lim­its

Unan­i­mous re­buke of ju­di­cial crit­ics of pres­i­dent

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

The Supreme Court re­vived Pres­i­dent Trump’s ex­treme vet­ting travel ban Mon­day, rul­ing that much of it can go into ef­fect — and along the way de­liv­er­ing an im­plicit re­buke to the army of lower-court judges who blasted the pres­i­dent as anti-Mus­lim.

In a unan­i­mous un­signed rul­ing, the jus­tices said the pres­i­dent has im­por­tant na­tional se­cu­rity pow­ers that the courts must re­spect and ruled that he likely has the power to deny en­try to broad cat­e­gories of would-be vis­i­tors and im­mi­grants.

But the jus­tices said those who al­ready have a con­nec­tion to the U.S. — ei­ther a job of­fer, an ad­mis­sion to an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram or a close fam­ily con­nec­tion — will be ex­empted from the 90-day ban on travel from six coun­tries as well as the 120-day pause on refugees.

Min­utes af­ter the rul­ing, both sides were fight­ing over what that meant.

The pres­i­dent said his plans will “be­come largely ef­fec­tive” and called the rul­ing “a clear vic­tory for our na­tional se­cu­rity.”

“My num­ber one re­spon­si­bil­ity as Com­man­der in Chief is to keep the Amer­i­can peo­ple safe,” he said in a state­ment. “To­day’s rul­ing al­lows me to use an

im­por­tant tool for pro­tect­ing our Na­tion’s home­land. I am also par­tic­u­larly grat­i­fied that the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion was 9-0.”

Im­mi­grant rights groups, mean­while, were di­vided.

Some took an op­ti­mistic ap­proach, say­ing ap­proval of the ex­emp­tions will pre­vent few vis­i­tors from en­ter­ing the U.S. un­der ei­ther the travel ban or the refugee pause. Oth­ers were out­raged that the court gave an im­pri­matur to any of the pres­i­dent’s pol­icy.

The Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment said it will soon is­sue guid­ance about how it will carry out the court’s di­rec­tives.

Ad­vo­cacy groups said they will be watch­ing closely and will be pre­pared to file law­suits if they think the govern­ment is re­fus­ing en­try to de­serv­ing vis­i­tors, refugees and im­mi­grants.

“This order al­lows only a nar­row sliver of the ban to go for­ward. We will stop any at­tempt by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to go fur­ther,” said Omar C. Jad­wat, di­rec­tor of the Im­mi­grant Rights Project at the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union.

The court has set oral ar­gu­ments on the full case for Oc­to­ber, when the next term be­gins.

But all the jus­tices Mon­day sig­naled a re­luc­tance to fol­low the lead of sev­eral lower courts, which said Mr. Trump’s cam­paign rhetoric re­gard­ing Mus­lims poi­soned his ex­ec­u­tive or­ders.

Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Mr. Trump pro­posed a full ban on ad­mit­ting any Mus­lims to the U.S. In Jan­uary, af­ter tak­ing of­fice, he is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive order that im­posed a 120-day pause on all new refugees, dropped the an­nual ceil­ing of refugees to 50,000 — down from the 110,000 that Pres­i­dent Obama had set, and called for a 90-day halt in ad­mis­sions from Iran, Iraq, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men.

Those seven coun­tries — all pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim — had been first iden­ti­fied by Congress and Mr. Obama as

so ter­ror-prone and dan­ger­ous that their cit­i­zens needed ex­tra vet­ting.

Af­ter courts ruled against the Jan­uary ex­ec­u­tive order, Mr. Trump is­sued a re­vised order in March re­mov­ing Iraq from the tar­geted coun­tries and al­low­ing waivers that granted ad­mis­sion to peo­ple who the govern­ment deemed al­ready had con­nec­tions to the U.S., such as an ap­proved visa or fam­ily liv­ing in the coun­try.

Some le­gal an­a­lysts said the Supreme Court rul­ing did lit­tle more than cod­ify

that lat­est pol­icy.

“An Amer­i­can in­di­vid­ual or en­tity that has a bona fide re­la­tion­ship with a par­tic­u­lar per­son seek­ing to en­ter the coun­try as a refugee can le­git­i­mately claim con­crete hard­ship if that per­son is ex­cluded,” the jus­tices said in the un­signed opin­ion. “But when it comes to refugees who lack any such con­nec­tion to the United States, for the rea­sons we have set out, the balance tips in fa­vor of the Govern­ment’s com­pelling need to pro­vide for the Na­tion’s se­cu­rity.”

Three mem­bers of the court — Jus­tices Clarence Thomas, Sa­muel A. Al­ito Jr. and Neil M. Gor­such — is­sued their own opin­ion say­ing they would have gone fur­ther and up­held the pres­i­dent’s en­tire pol­icy.

“I fear that the Court’s rem­edy will prove un­work­able,” said Jus­tice Thomas, writ­ing for the dis­senters. He said the de­ci­sion creates a night­mare for the ad­min­is­tra­tion, which must come up with def­i­ni­tions of what con­sti­tutes “suf­fi­cient con­nec­tion.”

The court also cre­ated an ex­emp­tion to Mr. Trump’s 50,000-refugee cap, say­ing that any­one al­ready in the pipe­line with close con­nec­tions to the U.S. must be ad­mit­ted — a strik­ing move that gar­nered lit­tle ex­pla­na­tion in the 13-page rul­ing.

Some ad­vo­cacy groups ar­gued that meant no refugees will be blocked be­cause of the ban, be­cause ev­ery­one in the pipe­line al­ready has ties to the U.S. by dint of the fact that a re­set­tle­ment agency in the U.S. is work­ing on their case.

Other groups feared that some refugees will be left on the out­side and stranded in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions.

Those fu­ture fights aside, the rul­ing is the first ma­jor le­gal vic­tory for Mr. Trump, who had been blasted by lower courts — chiefly Demo­cratic-ap­pointed judges — for show­ing “an­i­mus” to Mus­lims and for fail­ing to jus­tify his na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns.

The jus­tices, though, said the pres­i­dent de­serves def­er­ence when act­ing on na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns in im­mi­gra­tion mat­ters, where Congress has given the ex­ec­u­tive branch sig­nif­i­cant lee­way.

“The Supreme Court did what the lower court judges would not: treat Pres­i­dent Trump like any other pres­i­dent with the ‘pre­sump­tion of reg­u­lar­ity,’” Josh Black­man, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at South Texas Col­lege of Law in Hous­ton, wrote on his blog. “The jus­tices did not delve into the pres­i­dent’s Twit­ter ac­count, nor did they parse his cam­paign state­ments.”

The jus­tices did, how­ever, sig­nal that they ex­pect Mr. Trump to use the re­prieve to quickly fig­ure out and put into place vet­ting poli­cies — which was the point of the tem­po­rary pauses in the first place, ac­cord­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Given the Govern­ment’s rep­re­sen­ta­tions in this lit­i­ga­tion con­cern­ing the re­sources re­quired to com­plete the 20-day re­view, we fully ex­pect that the re­lief we grant to­day will per­mit the Ex­ec­u­tive to con­clude its in­ter­nal work and pro­vide ad­e­quate no­tice to for­eign govern­ments” within the time frame laid out by Mr. Trump, the jus­tices said.

That could make much of the case moot by Oc­to­ber, when the next ses­sion of the court be­gins.

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