US Supreme Court Seems to Favor Upholding Trump's Travel Ban
Justices on the Supreme Court heard arguments on President Donald Trump's travel ban for the first time on Wednesday, as the nation's highest court decides whether to uphold the third version of the controversial executive order on immigration.
The court's conservative-leaning justices, who outnumber their liberal counterparts on the nine-member bench, seemed to illustrate that they were against repealing the travel ban.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito said the text of Trump's policy “does not look at all like a Muslim ban.”
The court's Chief Justice John Roberts held a similar opinion, and perhaps most telling, so did Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is conservative but sometimes-votes with the liberal judges.
Roberts wondered whether Trump would be limited from acting in a foreign policy emergency — like the Syrian Civil War — if he is prohibited from targeting specific countries. For his part, Kennedy challenged the argument that the ban is permanent for the countries on the restricted list, noting that the policy allows nations to be reassessed and potentially removed.
Neil Gorsuch, the one justice to be nominated by President Trump, took the arguments one step further, saying the lawsuit challenging the ban (brought by a lower court in Hawaii) should not have even been considered in the first place.
The version of the travel ban now before the Court was released in June 2017 and bars citizens of six Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan) from entering the US unless they had a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in America. In September 2017, the administration also added new travel restrictions to Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen that were slowly phased in until December 2017.
Earlier in April the Trump Administration announced that Chad was taken off the travel ban list because the country "made significant strides and now meets the baseline criteria" for security, the State Department said.
The Supreme Court previously allowed the latest version of the travel ban to go into effect in December with a 7-2 vote. Court watchers interpreted that action as a sign that the justices would ultimately rule to uphold the ban this summer.
The court is expected to issue its final ruling in June.