It’s going to be a long day of Supreme Court news, folks, so buckle yourselves in. One of the most hotly debated decisions we were waiting for dealt with President Trump’s widely contested travel ban. (Yes… at this point I’m just saying travel ban for convenience. Call it what you like.) Originally slated to take effect shortly after Trump’s inauguration, two versions of the order have been put forward and then summarily halted by both the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. SCOTUS found at least five members (and I’m sure you can guess which ones) to disagree with the lower courts and have largely reinstated the ban while agreeing to hear the case in full this fall. CBS has some of the early details.
The Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments on President Trump’s travel ban affecting citizens of six mostly Muslim countries and will be argued in October…
The justices met Thursday morning for their last regularly scheduled private conference in June and probably took a vote then about whether to let the Trump administration immediately enforce the ban and hear the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings blocking the ban.
The court had to decide before late this week, after which the justices will scatter for the summer for speeches, teaching gigs and vacations.
This wasn’t a blanket acceptance of the order because there are a few exceptions to the ban being specified. Primarily, if an immigrant from any of the six nations has a “credible claim of a bona fide blood or legal relationship with someone” in the United States they will not be subject to the ban. The “legal relationship” portion of the exceptions doesn’t just apply to marriage. One example given is that of a person who already has an employment agreement in place allowing them to legally travel here for work, in which case they may be exempted from the ban also.
You can read the full judgement here, but the section where the exceptions are delineated is summarized in this bit. (There’s more you can read at the link.)
Having adopted this view of the equities, the courts approved injunctions that covered not just respondents, but parties similarly situated to them—that is, people or entities in the United States who have relationships with foreign nationals abroad, and whose rights might be affected if those foreign nationals were excluded.
One point which may be argued later is the question of when and how the Supreme Court (being the Judicial Branch) can actually modify or rewrite an order from the Executive Branch. Certainly they can accept it or shoot it down on Constitutional grounds, but can they add in new parts and subtract others? Seems a bit dodgy, but that’s a debate to be had in the future.
The case will be heard this fall and we expect a final resolution before Christmas, but for the time being this is obviously a major victory for the President. Still, I’m left with a couple of nagging questions which I’ve brought up in the past, primarily for those fighting against this order. First and foremost, are we really debating the power of the president to make such decisions regarding access to our borders and national security? It seems that this was the case in the lower courts and it’s now been rejected at the top level.
Second, and perhaps this comes off as a bit too cynical, but let’s keep in mind when this order came out originally and the scope of it. It was supposed to be a six month ban. If you’d just let it go through it would have expired a couple of weeks from now. But as things stand the clock has been reset.
As for the White House, the six month ban was supposed to allow you to review the situation and (as the President said so often on the campaign trail) figure out what the hell is going on. You’ve had nearly six months already. Have you figured it out? And if so, are there any permanent changes to enhance security in terms of travel and immigration which might do away with the need for a temporary ban by the time this thing gets in front of the Justices in the fall?
Inquiring minds want to know.