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Supreme Court Ruling on Trump's Bid to Reinstate Travel Ban

Monday June 26, 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on President Donald Trump’s bid to reinstate his travel ban, which would suspend entry from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days.

Two federal appeals courts have blocked the ban, and the Trump administration is asking the high court to hear appeals of those rulings as well as let the executive order take effect in the interim. The legal dispute is testing the court’s approach toward a polarizing president and his assertions of sweeping authority over the nation’s borders. TOPLive is here for full coverage on the decision and reaction.
Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images\
The top headlines on the ruling:
  • Supreme Court Partially Revives Trump Travel Ban
  • U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments on Trump Travel Ban
Some more details:
  • Court Says Travel Ban May Not Be Enforced Against Some People
  • Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch Issue Partial Dissent on Travel Ban
  • Court Says Ban Can Apply to People Without U.S. Relationship

Some background on the two appeals court decisions that blocked the ban:

  • The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 10-3 on May 25 to uphold a nationwide halt to the policy, saying the travel ban was “steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group.” The majority pointed to Trump’s campaign vow to bar Muslims from entering the country and to the special preference for religious minorities included in an earlier version of the ban.

  • A three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled June 12 that the president exceeded his authority with the sweeping travel restrictions without showing how letting those people in hurts American interests.
Trump administration wins partial stay of lower-court injunctions, allowing it to go forward with ban against foreigners who lack connection to people or institutions in the U.S.
Executive order called for a 90-day ban on admission of six mostly-Muslim countries. Case to be heard by Supreme Court as soon as October. That means the 90-day ban against some travelers will go forward no matter what the court eventually decides.
Our main story has been updated to include details on who from the six affected countries can enter the U.S.:

The ban on people entering the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries can apply for now to everyone except people who have a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," the justices said in an unsigned opinion.

That includes people visiting a close family member, students who have been admitted to a university or workers who have accepted an employment offer, the court said. But the court said people can’t avoid the travel ban by entering into a relationship solely to enter the U.S.
Ban won't apply to individuals with "a close familial relationship" to someone in the U.S. or to a U.S. entity, such as a student admitted to a university, a worker who has accepted a job from an employer in the U.S., or a lecturer invited to speak to a U.S. audience.
Dissent by three justices (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch) would have stayed the injunctions entirely, meaning the orders would apply while the court considers the appeal.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Individuals must have a close family relationship to be exempt from the ban. For entities, there must be a formal, documented relationship; so a student admitted to a University would be exempt as would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from a company. Refugees with real relationship to people in the US are exempt.
Dissent by Justice Thomas claims the partial stay demonstrates the Court's "implicit conclusion that the Government has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the mer-its—that is, that the judgments below will be reversed."
While running for president, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," though later in the campaign he revised that to say immigration should be suspended from any nation "compromised by terrorism." While his campaign audiences cheered for the idea, the initial executive order was followed by demonstrations by opponents in cities across the U.S. and abroad.
Protesters wave American flags as bodega owners, workers and supporters demonstrate during a strike in New York, on Feb. 2, 2017. Photographer: Kholood Eid/Bloomberg
Statements are starting to come in from interested parties, reacting to the Supreme Court's action. Here's one from Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director.

“This bigoted ban cannot be allowed to take effect again, and Congress needs to step in immediately to nullify it once and for all. It’s always been crystal clear that this policy was based on discrimination. Reinstating any part of this ban could create chaos in the nation’s airports and tear families apart. Rather than keeping anyone safe, this ban demonizes millions of innocent people and creates anxiety and instability for people who want to visit a relative, work, study, return to the country they call home, or just travel without fear."
The lower courts may have gone too far, the Supreme Court said, by preventing the government from barring entry to foreign nationals abroad who have no connection to the U.S. From the opinion:
"Denying entry to such a foreign national does not burden any American party by reason of that party’s relationship with the foreign national."
Thomas says provision requiring officials to determine whether people from the six affected countries have a connection to the U.S, is too difficult to be enforced. He predicts "a flood of litigation" until the Supreme Court rules.
We're waiting for a response, formal or informal, from President Trump and the White House. This is a partial victory for the administration, so expect them to respond with satisfaction, that this is a good first step but that the full ban should be implemented.
Trump's executive order also suspended admission of refugees from all nations, which was blocked by a judge in Hawaii. The Supreme Court today said refugees with a connection to the U.S. may be admitted, pending its decision on the appeal. Refugees without a connection to the country are barred.
The Supreme Court will be the most politically conservative court to hear travel ban arguments. After today's partial win for the Trump administration, the final ruling is impossible to predict, says Allan Ides, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
``I'm surprised they're ruling on the fly, this is truly extraordinary. Until now, the vast majority of judges have held that it was unconstitutional. Given the composition of the Supreme Court, it's up for grabs.''
The dissenting justices predict a bit of chaos:
"Today’s compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding—on peril of contempt— whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country."
Here’s a quick CATCH-UP of what we’ve learned so far:
  • The Supreme Court partially revives President Trump’s travel ban, reversing a string of legal setbacks for the administration.
  • Court says ban can apply for now to those from six mostly Muslim countries except people who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.
  • The high court agreed to hear the arguments on the ban when its new term begins in October.
  • Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch said they would have let the full ban take effect immediately.
  • The travel policy will now go into effect in 72 hours.
A few important points to keep in mind as the news unfolds:
  • the 90-day ban is temporary
  • the ban has only been partially revived
  • it's unclear how relevant the fight will be by October, since the temporary ban will expire by then
Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a former Obama administration labor secretary, weighs in with a vow that Democrats will keep fighting the "hatred" behind the travel ban policy:

“Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is an unconstitutional and un-American assault on our country’s foundation of religious freedom. As a nation, our diversity is our greatest strength, and we cannot allow such prejudice to shut the doors of progress. Democrats will continue to fight this hatred every step of the way.”
A few more points on the vote:
  • Nine-member court unanimously agreed to hear the appeal. Only four required.
  • Six signed on to the majority opinion limiting the injunctions. That required five votes.
  • Three justices would have allowed the full executive order to go forward while the court considers the case.
It's worth noting that at this stage, the Supreme Court hasn't weighed in on Trump's claim that the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, went "too far" by using the president's past negative comments about Muslims against him.
The Supreme Court’s decisions on issues including race relations and presidential reach have become more polarized in recent years and less than half of Americans approve of the way it's handling its job. Read our latest QuickTake on the high court.
The thorn in Trump's side, the ACLU, is trying to put a positive spin on this obvious setback for the organization, saying this in a statement just moments ago:
"Courts have repeatedly blocked this indefensible and discriminatory ban. The Supreme Court now has a chance to permanently strike it down.”