The Supreme Court agreed Monday to let President Trump’s immigration travel ban go into effect for some travelers, reversing the actions of lower federal courts that had put the controversial policy completely on hold.
USAToday The court also agreed to hear the case involving travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries and international refugees in October, leaving open the chance that it could reverse Monday’s verdict if challengers can prove the ban is illegal or unconstitutional.
The justices’ action gives Trump a partial victory following a string of defeats from coast to coast, and he wasted no time applauding it.
“Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security,” Trump said in a statement. “It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective.”
That was immediately contested by immigrant rights and civil liberties groups challenging the travel ban, who argued that most would-be travelers cannot be barred under the court’s compromise ruling.
Going forward, however, travelers in a wide range of visa categories will have to prove their connection to a U.S. organization or individual in order to avoid the ban – at least until the Supreme Court hears and decides the overall dispute.
“The government’s interest in enforcing (the ban), and the executive’s authority to do so, are undoubtedly at their peak when there is no tie between the foreign national and the United States,” the court said.
Until Monday, the travel ban had been under siege in federal courts. Some courts struck it down as a form of religious discrimination against Muslims. Others said it showed bias based on nationality and exceeded the president’s authority without a firm national security justification.
The high court’s action, therefore, represents a setback for immigration rights and civil liberties groups that had bottled up two executive orders through legal action, exacerbating the president’s battles with federal courts that began during the election campaign.
The court’s action was written without an author, but with a partial dissent from Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who would have given Trump a complete victory by allowing the ban to apply to all travelers.
“The government has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits — that is, that the judgments below will be reversed,’ Thomas wrote. “The government has also established that failure to stay the injunctions will cause irreparable harm by interfering with its ‘compelling need to provide for the nation’s security.’”
The Supreme Court also upheld a lower court’s decision to allow the administration to finally begin a global review of vetting procedures used to screen foreign travelers. The White House has said that review was the most important component of Trump’s executive order, and that the travel ban was merely an effort to free resources to conduct the review.