Supreme Court Upholds Trump’s Travel Ban
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban that prohibited travelers from five mostly Muslim countries as well as North Korea and Venezuela. The court ruled in a 5-4 vote in Trump vs Hawaii.
The ruling was on the third version of the travel ban that was issued last September – after previous bans failed in the courts.
The administration was forced to revise the original order twice to resolve legal problems over due process, implementation and exclusive targeting of Muslim nations.
The ruling is a major victory for Trump and his administration as well as an implicit rebuke to the judges on the East and West coasts who repeatedly issued nationwide orders to block the travel ban.
Trump praised the ruling as a “tremendous victory for the American people and the Constitution.”
The state of Hawaii and other challengers of the ban argued that the travel ban exceeded the President’s authority under immigration law and the Constitution. They also used Trump’s statements during the campaign, when he called for a ban on travel from all Muslim-majority countries.
The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. The chief justice did not dispute Trump’s consistently anti-Muslim statements.
“The issue, however, is not whether to denounce the President’s statements,” Roberts said, “but the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, the Court must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself.”
The court’s four liberal justices dissented in two separate opinions, with both Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor delivering rare oral dissents from the bench.
Speaking with unusual passion, Sotomayor blasted the court’s reasoning.
“The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty,” she opened in her dissent. “Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle.”
What’s more, Sotomayor said, the court’s decision “leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns.”
Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, who led Hawaii’s challenge against the travel ban when he served as attorney general, issued a statement saying, “I hurt today for Hawaii families and others who have experienced discrimination and scapegoating due to President Trump’s bullying remarks and orders.”
Current Attorney General Russell Suzuki agreed and added that the office continues to believe that the travel ban is “unconstitutional.”
And U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz also weighed in, saying, “The Supreme Court made the wrong decision and ignored the evidence that the Muslim ban, even the more narrowly tailored version, is a xenophobic policy that makes our country no safer than before.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who’s been a staunch critic of Trump and his policies, said “today is a dark day for our country” and claimed the Supreme Court “handed the president unfettered power to continue to target minorities.”
Hakim Ouansafi, the head of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, called the decision a “setback” for the nation, but says it will make travel ban opponents even more determined to keep an eye on the President.
“Just because the (Supreme Court) said so, it doesn’t make it moral. It’s very much inconsistent with what this country stands for: love, compassion, mercy,” said Ouansafi.
Shirlene Ostrov, chairwoman of the Hawaii Republican Party, lauded the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I think the current policy really does ensure that we put the safety of the American people first and make sure we fight for immigration system that serves our national interest and our citizens,” Ostrov said.
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