Supreme Court Allows Limited Version of Trump’s Travel Ban
The court has decided to hear the case in the fall.
President Donald Trump claimed a partial victory Monday after the Supreme Court issued a partial stay and ruled that it would decide whether his revised travel ban was lawful.
The current version of the travel ban limits entry to the United States for citizens from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. The White House has argued that the pause in travel was needed to make sure security and vetting procedures were strong enough to catch any would-be terrorists from entering the United States. A series of lower courts found the ruling to be unconstitutional.
In challenging the ban, lawyers used evidence of Trump’s past statements to argue it specifically targeted people based on their religion. The president has repeatedly said that the ban was needed to keep Muslim terrorist from committing attacks against the United States. Trump’s lawyers have argued the ban was necessary to make sure the review process for travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen was strong enough.
The Supreme Court stay, however, is narrow. The partial stay to the injunction does not apply to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” which applies to family members with U.S. citizenship or green cards, universities, and companies applying for visas on an employee’s behalf.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said the ruling allows it to “largely implement the President’s Executive Order and take rational and necessary steps to protect our nation from persons looking to enter and potentially do harm. The granting of a partial stay of the circuit injunctions with regard to many aliens abroad restores to the Executive Branch crucial and long-held constitutional authority to defend our national borders.”
The court, which issued an unsigned opinion on the matter, said it would hear the case when it reconvened in October. But it also indicated that the matter could be moot by then; the ban is supposed to be a temporary one that would expire before the justices gather in the fall.
In a statement, Trump said the ruling was a “clear victory for our national security.”
“My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe. Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland,” the president said.
But lawyers fighting the ban are optimistic. Only three of the nine justices backed the ban in its entirely (Trump falsely claimed the decision was 9-0), endorsing the Trump administration’s argument for broad executive authority on the matter.
“If [Trump] wants to call it a victory in order to back off and walk away from this, I’m happy for him to call it a victory,” said Justin Cox, an attorney representing International Refugee Assistance Project in the Supreme Court case.
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David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis