On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of upholding President Donald Trump’s travel ban, a major win for the Trump administration.
This monumental legal victory comes after months of the ban being demonized by political commentators and media outlets who repeatedly referred to it as “Islamophobic”, “un-American”, and a “disguise for xenophobia”.
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the ban was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, allowing President Trump to exercise his responsibility to keep the nation safe.
The ban was set to be fully enforced in December 2017, however lower courts had ruled the policy to be legally out of bounds and had blocked parts of it from being enforced. Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling has ensured that the policy will go into full effect, and clarifies that the ban will apply even to those with close relatives in the United States.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor opposed the bill, denouncing both the travel ban and the president himself. Sotomayor quotes statements candidate Donald Trump made during his presidential campaign about wanting to restrict Muslim immigration to the country, citing these claims as confirmation that the bill was based on religious bias, writing, “A reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”
The ban, however, does not prohibit all Muslim immigration – in fact, it affects only eight percent of the world’s total Muslim population. President Trump’s ban was motivated not by Islamophobia, but by the need to increase national security. While five of the seven countries affected by the travel ban are majority-Muslim countries, this is based on the fact that these countries, like Syria and Iran, are run by fascist regimes who have sponsored acts of terrorism and repeatedly refused to cooperate with American requests to vet their travelers.
Roberts reiterates this point in the majority opinion, in which he cites 8 U.S. Code § 1182(f), which gives the president authority to restrict the entry of aliens if he thinks their entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States”.
The current version of the travel ban also applies to Venezuela and North Korea, two non-majority-Muslim countries.
President Trump celebrated the ruling on Tuesday, tweeting, “SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!” He later hailed the decision in an official statement, saying, “This ruling is a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country. […] The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the president to defend the national security of the United States.”