President Trump scored a major win this week at the Supreme Court, where a 7-2 ruling upheld Trump‘s latest iteration of his travel ban; this one dating to September 24. However, this is not a final decision, as several challenges to the ban are working their way through the federal courts, notably in the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit, and the Richmond-based 4th Circuit.
Nonetheless, this ruling offers a window into how the court is thinking, and all signs point to an affirmation of the ban in the future. The Trump Justice Department has argued that irreparable harm would be done to national security interests were the ban to be suspended.
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Various groups have brought the challenges, including the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and First Amendment religious protections which prohibit religious discrimination.
Trump has argued that the ban is not indeed a “Muslim ban” but a ban on nations that threaten national security, and the Supreme Court appears headed to a decision supporting that rationale.
In addition to 6 majority Muslim countries (Syria, Chad, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Yemen) the ban includes North Korea, and Venezuelan officials tied to the Nicolas Maduro regime.
The current Supreme Court term ends in June of 2018, making it likely that an expected appeal from the 4th or 9th Circuit would reach the high court this term.
In an encouraging sign for the travel ban, both Elena Kagan (an Obama appointee) and Stephen Breyer (a Clinton appointee) joined the majority ruling. Only Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
As commentators have pointed out, if this were, indeed, a Muslim ban, it would apply to the world’s entire 1.6 billion Muslim population. As it stands now, the ban affects less than 10% of the world’s Muslims.
The difficulty of vetting migrants from a nation such as Syria or Libya should be abundantly clear. Even opponents of the ban have failed to provide a credible proposal for thoroughly vetting visa applicants from these nations.