The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of the federal government in Trump v. Hawaii, upholding the President’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries and overruling a lower court’s decision to put parts of the ban on hold. Deliberations led to a 5-4 split with the high court’s liberal justices as the dissenting minority. The decision effectively reverses the lower court’s ruling, which was already put on hold while the case was reviewed to prevent full implementation of the immigration ban. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion.
With the third and latest iteration of Trump’s executive order banning travel from Muslim-majority countries now in full effect, travelers, immigrants, refugees, and even visa holders from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen are now completely shut off from entering the country.
While critics of the policy have pointed out the discriminatory basis of the ban evident in the predominant religion in the blacklisted countries as well as the President’s own social media posts, Chief Justice Roberts sees things differently.
“The [order] is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices,” Roberts explained. “The text says nothing about religion.”
Earlier versions of the ban had much wider scopes, with the country of Chad dropped from the blacklist of countries in April. These were all struck down by the judiciary in 2017. The ban later developed to be applicable only to specific categories of visa applicants and, at least on paper, allowed immigrants to apply for waivers.
Critics of the ban may continue the fight despite the decision as the high court currently instructs the 9th Circuit to rule on the ban’s merits. However, the outcome of Trump v. Hawaii makes it tremendously difficult to do so.
“Though I am disappointed by the outcome, I am heartened that our system of government worked as the founders intended. Now that the Court has upheld [the ban], it is up to Congress to do its job and reverse President Trump’s unilateral and unwise travel ban,” said Neal Katyla, one of the attorneys challenging the ban.
As expected, voting was split along partisan lines. In concurrence were Chief Justice Roberts along with Republican appointees Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. Dissenting were Democrat appointees Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
President Trump celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, claiming that the “country will always be safe, secure, and protected on my watch.”
For more immigration news and updates on the travel ban, be sure to follow this blog. If you, or a loved one, are affected by this latest ruling and want to know what your options are, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more about how Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle can help you.