SCOTUS Allows Travel Ban to Move Forward

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) allows President Trump’s travel ban on nationals from 6 Muslim-majority countries to move forward, overturning blanket exceptions to a lower court ruling. The early December ruling reverses a lower court ruling that makes ban exceptions for nationals from Chad, Iran Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen with a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with U.S.-based grandparents, cousins and others.

The SCOTUS ruling applies to only part of the president’s proposed travel ban as lower courts continue to find problems with the policy. Because of this, challenges to the policy continue to make their way through the justice system. Still, according to a report, “the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban,” which President Trump announced in September.

The ruling, found by 7 of the 9 justices, came with no explanation. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the order.

The ban, which also applies to travelers from North Korea and to some Venezuelan government officials and their families, did not challenge those restrictions. The ruling also does not apply to refugees as a temporary ban on this group expired in October.

While Department of Justice attorneys argued the block on the ban caused “irreparable harm” where national security and foreign policy are concerned, opponents say the ban demonstrate bias against Muslims and is a violation of immigration law.

“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret. He has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter. It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project. The ACLU represents some opponents of the ban.

Other activities in the travel ban case include the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, both of which will be holding arguments on the legality of the ban this week. These courts are dealing with the issue on an accelerated basis. As part of its ruling, SCOTUS noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch.”

A speedy resolution by appellate courts allows the Supreme Court to hear and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.

While nationals of the affected countries can no longer claim a family relationship in avoiding the ban, visa official authority allows for exceptions on a case-by-case basis.