Along ideological lines Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed a victory to the White House ruling it was within the administration’s power to block citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from temporary entry to the U.S.
In a 5–4 decision, the court held in Donald J. Trump, et al. v. Hawaii the president lawfully exercised broad discretion under 8 U. S. C. §1182(f), and respondents had not demonstrated Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 violated the establishment clause.
Those who disputed the travel ban claimed Trump exceeded presidential authority under immigration law, invoking statements the office-holder made over the proposed ban.
In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the proclamation did not exceed Trump’s authority, but the Court was making no judgement on the soundness of the policy.
“The Proclamation is squarely within the scope of Presidential authority and could have been taken by any other president – the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular president in promulgating an otherwise valid proclamation.”
In a searing rebuttal denouncing the majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed the majority for ignoring Trump’s previous remarks, central to Hawaii’s case, while campaigning for the White House:
“The majority here completely sets aside the President’s charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the court elsewhere has so emphatically protected, and it tells members of minority religions in our country ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.”
Sotomayor similarly invoked a 1944 Court ruling, Korematsu v. United States, vindicating the internment of Japanese-Americans while the Second World War raged.
Reacting to Sotomayor’s reprimand, Roberts renounced the 1944 ruling as “gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and, to be clear, has no place in law under the Constitution.”
Reacting on his favored platform, Twitter, Trump wrote:
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2018
In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said:
“This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”
A delicate case which invited questions over tolerance and discrimination, two previous bans did not survive court challenges.
The third, which places a moratorium from travelers from six nations, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea, and limits some travelers from Venezuela, will remain in effect.
Under law, the travel ban must be reviewed every 180 days.
[Roll Call] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via New York Post]