Supreme Court up­holds Trump’s travel ban

Se­cu­rity pol­icy only ap­plies to 8 per­cent of world’s Mus­lims

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Pres­i­dent Trump’s travel ban pol­icy is both le­gal and con­sti­tu­tional, the Supreme Court ruled, de­liv­er­ing a mas­sive vic­tory to the White House and dash­ing hopes of Democrats and ac­tivists who hoped the jus­tices would join the re­sis­tance.

In­stead, the court, in a 5-4 rul­ing, said the pres­i­dent has broad pow­ers to con­trol who is ad­mit­ted to the U.S. The rul­ing said those pow­ers are strong­est when the pres­i­dent is act­ing on na­tional se­cu­rity grounds and, in this case, Mr. Trump gave suf­fi­cient jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the need to re­strict en­try from some un­co­op­er­a­tive coun­tries.

The jus­tices re­fused to hold Mr. Trump’s tweets and anti-Mus­lim cam­paign state­ments against him. They said the pol­icy, which now ap­plies to ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim and non-Mus­lim coun­tries, is fa­cially neu­tral — not the “Mus­lim ban” his crit­ics had as­serted.

“The text says noth­ing about re­li­gion,” wrote Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr., who au­thored the main opinion in the case.

Trump crit­ics were en­raged. Some said the rul­ing was ev­i­dence that the jus­tices were mo­ti­vated by racism.

Lib­eral le­gal an­a­lysts said the rul­ing would go down in his­tory among the worst ever is­sued by the high court.

Rep. Zoe Lof­gren, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, called it “a stain on our na­tion’s his­tory.”

For Mr. Trump, how­ever, it was a long-awaited stamp of ap­proval.

“The Supreme Court rul­ing was a tremen­dous vic­tory for this coun­try and the Con­sti­tu­tion,” he told re­porters at the White House.

In the near term, the de­ci­sion means the gov­ern­ment can con­tinue to se­verely re­strict en­try of cit­i­zens of seven coun­tries that Mr. Trump and his Cabi­net deem to be un­co­op­er­a­tive in shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about their cit­i­zens with the U.S.

More broadly, the rul­ing could shape the on­go­ing im­mi­gra­tion de­bate.

The court ruled that Congress has clear pow­ers to deny en­try to broad cat­e­gories of peo­ple, law­mak­ers gave the pres­i­dent wide lat­i­tude to carry out those pow­ers and Mr. Trump was “squarely within the scope” of his au­thor­ity with the travel ban.

“Un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances, the gov­ern­ment has set forth a suf­fi­cient na­tional se­cu­rity jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to sur­vive ra­tio­nal ba­sis re­view. We ex­press no view on the sound­ness of the pol­icy,” Chief Jus­tice Roberts wrote. “We sim­ply hold to­day that plain­tiffs have not demon­strated a like­li­hood of suc­cess on the mer­its of their con­sti­tu­tional claim.”

The court’s four Demo­crat-ap­pointed jus­tices dis­sented.

Two of them, Jus­tices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Ka­gan, said they would have asked lower courts to go back and see how the ad­min­is­tra­tion is car­ry­ing out the pol­icy to prove whether it is con­sti­tu­tional or not.

Jus­tice So­nia So­tomayor went fur­ther, in an opinion joined by Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg. They com­pared the de­ci­sion to some of the dark­est rul­ings of the court’s past, such as the World War II-era de­ci­sion up­hold­ing in­tern­ment of Ja­pane­seAmer­i­cans for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons.

Jus­tice So­tomayor said Mr. Trump’s tweets and his cam­paign state­ments should be used against him be­cause a clear line can be drawn from his cam­paign-era pro­posal for a “to­tal and com­plete shut­down of Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States” to the travel ban poli­cies.

“Tak­ing all the rel­e­vant ev­i­dence to­gether, a rea­son­able ob­server would con­clude that the procla­ma­tion was driven pri­mar­ily by anti-Mus­lim an­i­mus,” she wrote.

She warned of “pain and suf­fer­ing” among Amer­i­can Mus­lims and said the court was ef­fec­tively es­tab­lish­ing them as “out­siders, not full mem­bers of the po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity.”

Chief Jus­tice Roberts coun­tered that the lat­est ver­sion of the travel ban ap­plies to just 8 per­cent of the world’s Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. He pointed out that Mr. Trump’s orig­i­nal seven coun­tries were all sin­gled out by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress and that the up­dates were made af­ter ex­ten­sive work by his Cabi­net, fur­ther un­der­cut­ting anti-Mus­lim ar­gu­ments.

Still, Mr. Trump’s rhetoric did appear to trou­ble some jus­tices who up­held the travel pol­icy.

Jus­tice An­thony M. Kennedy, who signed onto the ma­jor­ity opinion, wrote a sep­a­rate con­cur­ring opinion say­ing that while the courts can’t nec­es­sar­ily po­lice all of the words of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, they should be care­ful not to go too far.

“An anx­ious world must know that our gov­ern­ment re­mains com­mit­ted al­ways to the lib­er­ties the Con­sti­tu­tion seeks to pre­serve and pro­tect, so that free­dom ex­tends out­ward, and lasts,” he wrote.

The rul­ing marked a ma­jor val­i­da­tion for Mr. Trump and his aides, who con­sis­tently pre­dicted that the lower court rul­ings would be over­turned and his pol­icy would be up­held.

Mr. Trump called the rul­ing a “pro­found vin­di­ca­tion fol­low­ing months of hys­ter­i­cal commentary from the me­dia and Demo­cratic politi­cians.”

The rul­ing dashed hopes of Trump op­po­nents in Congress and the press that they could rope the courts into play­ing ref­eree to the pres­i­dent’s pol­icy de­ci­sions.

In­stead, the ma­jor­ity said its role is not to de­cide whether the pres­i­den­tial ac­tions are wise, but rather whether they are le­gal. In this case, they said, the move clearly was le­gal.

“The courts won’t save us from Trump,” the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress, a lib­eral think tank, said in its daily ThinkProgr­ess memo.

The cur­rent pol­icy is the third it­er­a­tion of the travel ban.

Mr. Trump an­nounced the first one by ex­ec­u­tive or­der a week af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion, cre­at­ing chaos at air­ports as peo­ple from seven coun­tries sub­jected to the ban were turned back.

Im­mi­grant rights ad­vo­cates ran to the courts and re­ceived an im­me­di­ate halt to the pol­icy, launch­ing 17 months of lit­i­ga­tion.

Mr. Trump re­vised his pol­icy in March 2017 by cut­ting Iraq out of the list of banned coun­tries and is­su­ing more nar­row re­stric­tions, as well as lay­ing out a more thor­ough jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for why the pol­icy was nec­es­sary.

Some courts up­held that pol­icy as a valid ex­er­cise of pres­i­den­tial au­thor­ity, but oth­ers ruled that it still vi­o­lated con­sti­tu­tional rights of Amer­i­cans and le­gal im­mi­grants who de­served to have for­eign rel­a­tives, busi­ness as­so­ciates and oth­ers be able to visit them in the U.S.

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