A needed tu­to­rial in the law The Supreme Court up­holds the pres­i­dent’s right to bar ques­tion­able mi­grants

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The U.S. Supreme Court had a les­son Tues­day for the good-hearted folk who would ap­ply feel­ings in­stead of the Con­sti­tu­tion to the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the law. By the fa­mil­iar 5 to 4 vote on con­sti­tu­tional is­sues, the High Court up­held the clear lan­guage of Congress in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Trump’s or­der lim­it­ing the en­try of risky for­eign na­tion­als to the United States.

The third time was the charm for Pres­i­dent Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der lim­it­ing en­try into the United States by cit­i­zens of Chad, Iran, So­ma­lia, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Ye­men. Two ap­peals courts ear­lier ruled oth­er­wise. A ma­jor­ity of six of those eight na­tions are pop­u­lated mostly by Mus­lims, one of those na­tions counts a ma­jor­ity of nom­i­nal Chris­tians, and there is North Korea, where the cit­i­zens wor­ship, or deeply re­gard, Kim Jong-un if they know what’s good for them.

The law, as Chief Jus­tice John Roberts wrote in the ma­jor­ity opinion, “ex­udes def­er­ence to the pres­i­dent in ev­ery clause.” The law is the Im­mi­gra­tion and Neu­tral­ity Act of 1952, en­acted long be­fore im­mi­gra­tion be­came a mat­ter of hot dis­pute and des­per­ate dis­pu­ta­tion. It reads:

“When­ever the pres­i­dent finds that the en­try of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detri­men­tal to the in­ter­ests of the United States, he may by procla­ma­tion, and for such pe­riod as he shall deem nec­es­sary, sus­pend the en­try of all aliens or any class of aliens as im­mi­grants or non-im­mi­grants, or im­pose on the en­try of aliens any re­stric­tions he may deem to be ap­pro­pri­ate.”

The de­ci­sion notes there is no con­flict be­tween this and other fed­eral laws, and even the grant of a visa does not en­ti­tle or guar­an­tee a for­eign na­tional a right to en­ter the United States. From the court’s opinion:

“As ev­ery visa ap­pli­ca­tion ex­plains, a visa does not en­ti­tle an alien to en­ter the United States, ‘if, upon ar­rival,’ an im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer de­ter­mines that the ap­pli­cant is ‘in­ad­mis­si­ble un­der this chap­ter [of the law], or any other pro­vi­sion of law. …’” Com­mon sense and his­tor­i­cal prac­tice, Chief Jus­tice Roberts writes, have con­firmed that pres­i­dents have the au­thor­ity to sus­pend en­try from for­eign na­tions. Pres­i­dent Rea­gan pro­hib­ited en­try by Cuban na­tion­als, and Pres­i­dent Carter de­nied visas to Ira­nian na­tion­als. The court ob­serves “the crit­i­cal fact,” of­ten ob­scured in cur­rent ar­gu­ments over im­mi­gra­tion, that for­eign na­tion­als have “no con­sti­tu­tional right to en­try” into the United States.

The lan­guage of the de­ci­sion could al­most be read as a tu­to­rial for the four dis­sent­ing jus­tices and the lower ap­pel­late courts from which this dis­torted case sprang, about what con­sti­tu­tional law is all about. Sen­ti­ment in its place is good and proper, but it is not a sub­sti­tute for the Con­sti­tu­tion and the law. The de­ci­sion is a needed re­minder that while the pres­i­dent’s cam­paign lan­guage about the re­li­a­bil­ity of Is­lamic na­tions was some­times ex­treme and even ma­li­cious, his pol­icy is fo­cused and leaves undis­turbed the rights of mil­lions of Mus­lims across the world.

The scope of the pres­i­dent’s or­der was lim­ited to na­tions with a his­tory of ex­treme ji­had, law­less­ness and hos­til­ity to the United States, whether for re­li­gious or other rea­sons. Th­ese na­tions are re­spon­si­ble for who they are, and why, and the pres­i­dent is re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing the United States. Ours is not yet an open border.

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