Magazine article The Christian Century

Supreme Court Allows Parts of Travel Ban to Proceed before Hearing Case

Magazine article The Christian Century

Supreme Court Allows Parts of Travel Ban to Proceed before Hearing Case

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court decided to allow President Trump to prohibit entry into the United States of some (but not all) people from the majority-Muslim countries he declares to be dangerous.

What the justices' 9-0 ruling did not say may indicate volumes about the Supreme Court's approach to this defining issue of Trump's early presidency.

The high court ruling on June 26 did not try to tease out Trump's intentions from his tweets or campaign statements. It did not make judgments about the president's personal attitude toward Muslims. In that respect, it was different from lower court rulings that have blocked the travel ban from taking effect since the White House issued it in March.

That does not necessarily indicate that Trump will win--or lose--when the court hears full arguments on the case in the fall. What it does mean is that the Supreme Court will treat him as being inherently the same as other recent U.S. chief executives. They will give him wide latitude to make judgments about what is in the best interests of national security, but they won't cede him complete power on this question.

"They dialed down the temperature a few notches," said Josh Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law who specializes in constitutional jurisprudence.

It's important to remember that the action was only a preliminary round. The Supreme Court was considering lower court rulings that had held the proposed travel ban to be such an egregious infringement on religious rights that it needed to be prevented from taking effect on an immediate, emergency basis.

The high court both agreed and disagreed with this conclusion. On the one hand, Trump can't ban from entry anyone with a "bona fide relationship" to the United States, justices ruled. That includes people with a job, spouse, or school in the United States. On the other hand, citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries without such a connection now can be barred from entry, effective immediately. Many refugees may fall into this category.

The Supreme Court's acceptance of the case for full consideration in the fall could set up a showdown between the historic ability of the president to set the nation's national security priorities and the Constitution's prohibition against discrimination on the basis of religious belief.

Still, the arguments might never happen. The travel ban's purpose, according to the administration, is to institute a limited pause in immigration to give officials time to study procedures and decide if stricter vetting is necessary. …

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