The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed the Trump administration a partial victory on Monday when it gave a green-light to parts of President Trump’s controversial Executive Order that banned immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, a 120-day suspension of the US refugee resettlement program—it was clearly a victory for the White House.
SCOTUS gave the go-ahead to most of the president’s revised” travel ban. The president was moved to revise his original ban in the face of public criticism and, although it is still opposed by many, the revised ban is notably less severe than the president’s original Executive Order. It does, however, ban individuals from coming to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries who, according to SCOTUS, “lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” In other words, those who request entry from these countries must have a relative, a job, a college acceptance, or the like to be granted a visa.
Critics have expressed concern that the ruling could lead to confusion, chaos, and lawsuits over the meaning “bona fide relationship.”
The targeted countries include Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Libya and Syria. According to state department reports, collectively, there were just over 110,300 visitors from those six countries in 2016. In its ruling, SCOTUS also advised the president to complete his promise to review the nation’s vetting procedures.
A majority, unsigned opinion statement released by the Court read, “For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member … clearly has such a relationship. As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the executive order].”
SCOTUS ruled that these same guidelines should be applied to refugees who request safe-haven in America. Such individuals will be exempt from the 50,000-refugee defined in the ban.
In May, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction on the travel ban and stated it, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an amicus brief urging the Fourth Circuit to uphold the district court ruling that struck down the travel ban as unconstitutional. Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a similar ruling and Becerra filed another amicus brief.
Although the bans placed by the Executive Order were upheld in part, SCOTUS’ three most conservative Justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., and Neil M. Gorsuch – dissented. They expressed their belief the bill should be implemented as written without compromise.
In the dissenting opinion, Thomas wrote, “Today’s compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding, on peril of contempt — whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country.”
The ban was issued as a temporary order and expected to last 90-days. The president, almost in anticipation of the SCOTUS ruling, issued a memorandum in recent weeks that stated the order would take effect within 72 hours of when the injunctions were lifted or stayed.
SCOTUS has stated it will consider the ban in full sometime during its next term, which begins in October. However, the ban is temporary and expected to expire in 90 days.
Commenting on the Court’s ruling, Becerra stated, “Our Constitution will finally have its day in court. The discredited Muslim ban goes to the heart of the First Amendment and our remarkable journey to distance ourselves from our historic entanglement with discrimination.” He continued, “We’ll know soon if we are indeed a nation of laws, not men.”
According to Becerra, he and other attorneys general plan to keep a close watch on how the Administration handles this development. “We are prepared to do what it takes to protect the People’s constitutional rights and ensure compliance with the Court’s order as we await its final decision.”