The U.S. Supreme Court just upheld President Trump’s travel ban.
In a 5 to 4 vote, with the court’s conservatives in the majority, the court upheld the third iteration of Trump’s entry ban on the grounds that it fell within the scope of presidential authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that “The President of the United States possesses an extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf.” Roberts also rejected critics’ claims of anti-Muslim bias (“The text says nothing about religion,” Roberts wrote) and expressly avoided ruling on “the soundness of the policy.” The majority opinion also ignores Trump’s own use of the phrase “Muslim ban,” preferring instead to just look at the text of the law, which they found constitutional.
Trump’s first travel ban prompted nationwide protests that effectively shut down air travel. It was swiftly blocked by courts around the nation on the grounds that it unconstitutionally discriminated against religious groups and was not justified by legitimate national security concerns. The second version was also struck down, before the Supreme Court allowed it to be enforced except for visa applicants with family or other close U.S. connections. The third, and the most carefully worded, version was issued as a presidential proclamation in September. That was upheld by the court.
Now, visitors from seven countries— Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea—are subject to the strictures of the ban. While the restrictions vary in their details, for the most part, citizens of the countries are forbidden from emigrating to the United States, and many of them are barred from working, studying, or even vacationing here.
It’s unclear whether North Korea’s inclusion in the travel ban will reverse Trump’s purported progress with normalizing relations with the dictatorship. What is clear is that the ruling will not help people fleeing Venezuela’s famine or refugees hoping to leave ongoing conflicts in Syria or Somalia.
While the president tweeted “Wow!” in response to the news, Amnesty International has already decried the ruling, saying that a travel ban “has no place in a country that claims to value human rights.” The ACLU noted that “this is not the first time the Court has been wrong, or has allowed official racism and xenophobia to continue rather than standing up to it.”