Supreme Court Lifts Injunctions Against Trump Administration’s Muslim Travel Ban Version 3.0
Late yesterday, the Supreme Court set aside temporary injunctions issued by Federal Courts in Washington and Maryland against the third, and supposedly final, version of the Trump Administration’s travel ban aimed primarily at visitors from countries that are predominantly Muslim:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges against it continue. The decision was a victory for the administration after its mixed success before the court over the summer, when justices considered and eventually dismissed disputes over the second version.
The court’s brief, unsignedorders on Monday urged appeals courts to move swiftly to determine whether the latest ban was lawful. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the administration’s request to allow the latest ban to go into effect.
The court’s orders mean that the administration can fully enforce its new restrictions on travel from eight nations, six of them predominantly Muslim. For now, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the United States, along with some groups of people from Venezuela.
The restrictions vary in their details, but in most cases, citizens of the countries will be unable to emigrate to the United States permanently and many will be barred from working, studying or vacationing here.
Iran, for example, will still be able to send its citizens on student exchanges, though such visitors will be subject to enhanced screening. Somalis will no longer be allowed to emigrate to the United States, but may visit with extra screening.
The Supreme Court’s orders effectively overturned a compromise in place since June, when the court said travelers with connections to the United States could continue to travel here notwithstanding restrictions in an earlier version of the ban.
The orders gave no reasons for the court’s shift. The move did suggest that the administration’s chances of prevailing at the Supreme Court when the justices consider the lawfulness of the latest ban have markedly increased.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the order “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people.” A spokesman for the White House, Hogan Gidley, said, “We are not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision,” calling it “lawful and essential to protecting our homeland.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents people and groups challenging the ban, said it would continue to argue against the ban as challenges against it in lower appeals courts proceed.
“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret — he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims.”
In a pair of filings in the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco said Mr. Trump had acted under his broad constitutional and statutory authority to control immigration when he issued a new proclamation in September announcing the new travel restrictions.
Mr. Francisco wrote that the process leading to the proclamation was more deliberate than those that had led to earlier bans, issued in January and March. Those orders were temporary measures, he wrote, while the proclamation was the product of extensive study and deliberation.
Lawyers with the A.C.L.U. told the justices that little had changed. “The proclamation is the third order the president has signed this year banning more than 100 million individuals from Muslim-majority nations from coming to the United States,” they wrote.
This ruling from the nation’s highest court came in the wake of decisions from Federal District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland that placed an injunction on the enforcement on the revised version of President Trump’s travel ban that had been issued earlier this fall. Under this new version of the order, travel to the United States was barred for virtually everyone from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad, all six of which are majority Muslim nations. Additionally, the order banned travel to the United States by anyone from North Korea and certain individual linked to the government of Venezuela. As I noted when the order came down, the addition of Chad to the list of nations was odd considering the fact that the Chadian government has been cooperative with the U.S. in the fight against Boko Haram and other African terror groups and the fact that Chad itself has not been a significant source of terrorism. The other additions to the list, North Korea and Venezuela, meanwhile, appeared at the time to be a deliberate diversion given the fact that there is essentially no immigration of any kind from North Korea into the United States and the limits on travel from Venezuela only apply to a handful of people. The clear intent of the ban, then, was to target mainly the majority Muslim nations on the list.
The rulings from the two District Court judges came just one day before the revised indefinite travel ban was set to go into effect. As both judges found in their opinion, this new order adds significantly to the temporary ban issued in late January which was blocked by a Federal District Court Judge and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had issued injunctions against the order. After those orders, the Administration issued a revised ban that purported to address the problems pointed out in the initial order. That order purported to make certain changes to the bill but was itself struck down both by Federal Judges across the nation and by the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal. In June, the Supreme Court issued a ruling regarding the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that banned travel from six predominantly Muslim nations that upheld the ban in some respects but also ruled that it could not be applied to all immigrants from these nations. Specifically, the Court ruled that exceptions must be made for people with valid visas, and those with bona fide family or business connections to the United States, although it didn’t specify what it meant by that. The injunctions that were issued by these Judges were later upheld by both the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal, at which point the Trump Administration appealed to the Supreme Court.
This ruling from the Court just days before the revised travel ban is set to be argued on the merits in both the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The NinthCircuit will hear oral argument in the appeal of the case from Maryland tomorrow, and the Fourth Circuit will hear oral argument in the case from Hawaii on Friday. At some point, we’ll get rulings from both courts that could include injunctions of their own that, in addition to ruling on the merits and Constitutionality of the travel ban, impose injunctions of their own against its enforcement. Until that happens, though, the Supreme Court’s orders yesterday mean that the ban will be enforced in full going forward. This means that travels from six majority Muslim countries, as well as a handful of people from Venezuela and North Korea with certain business and official connections with the central government of those countries, will be largely barred from entering the United States. The only exceptions to that order will be people who are Permanent Residents of the United States, meaning those who have what is still called a “green card,” who will be permitted to continue to travel back and forth due to the fact that the travel ban specifically excludes them. Additionally, people who already have valid visas such s a student visa or who have certain bona fide connections to people already in the United States. All others would be barred entry for any reason, whether it would be business or pleasure. Additionally, the order places severe restrictions on the entry of refugees from anywhere in the world.
As several commentators have noted, the fact that the Supreme Court has lifted the stays imposed in these two cases is a victory for the Trump Administration and a strong hint of what the ultimate fate of the ban would be if it made its way to the nation’s highest court again. In their twin orders imposing the stays, the two lower court judges found that the changes that the Administration had made to the original and revised versions of the ban issued earlier this year did not sufficiently address the flaws in those original orders, specifically the fact that it was clearly targeted at Muslims without sufficient evidence to support doing so. As a result, they found among other things that the Plaintiffs in both cases were likely to succeed on the merits and that it would be unjust to allow the ban to go into place while the cases were pending. In lifting the stay, the Supreme Court sent a clear signal that there is a majority on the Court that disagrees with this assessment. Therefore, while the Plaintiffs may succeed in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, the long-term outlook for their challenges to the ban are not looking good at all.
Here are the orders issued yesterday by the court: