The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday restored President Donald Trump executive order banning incoming travel from six terror-prone countries.
‘Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security,’ the president said in a statement shortly after the high court ruled. ‘It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective.’
The Supreme Court is still yet to decide in the fall whether or not the travel ban is constitutional. Liberal state attorneys general have argued that it amounts to a religious test for entry into the U.S. since the affected countries all have Muslim majorities.
While the wheels justice turn, the Trump administration can enforce the executive order against anyone from those nations who doesn’t already have a ‘bona fide relationship’ with a U.S. citizen or legal resident, the court said.
On Monday morning, its a victory for Trump, who will be allowed – at least temporarily – to stem the flow of immigrants and refugees from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
As soon as the Supreme Court gives him a green light he would put his ban into effect 72 hours.
Technically, the justices left a lower court injunction in place, but only for people whose cases mirror those of the original plaintiffs – meaning ‘foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.’
‘All other foreign nationals are subject to the provisions of [the executive order],’ the court ruled.
Trump framed the decision as a win for national security, mirroring his claims that controlling travel entries is a vital anti-terror tool.
‘As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm,’ he said Monday. ‘I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive.’
‘My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe. Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland.’
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in an off-camera news briefing that Trump was ‘honored’ by Monday’s result which ‘allowed him to use an important tool to protect our nation’s homeland.’
Like Trump, he referred to the outcome as a ‘9-0’ decision.
Six of the justices voted to approve the decision as it was issued. The other three, the most conservative jurists on the court, wanted to go even further – restoring Trump’s travel ban without any restrictions at all
PRESIDENT TRUMP REACTS
‘Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security. It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective.
‘As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive.
‘My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe. Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland. I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0.’
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez lashed out at the administration for proposing the ban in the first place.
‘Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is an unconstitutional and un-American assault on our country’s foundation of religious freedom,’ Perez said in a statement.
‘As a nation, our diversity is our greatest strength, and we cannot allow such prejudice to shut the doors of progress. Democrats will continue to fight this hatred every step of the way.’
But Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the ruling ‘an important step towards restoring the separation of powers’ between the White House and the federal courts.
‘We have seen far too often in recent months that the threat to our national security is real and becoming increasingly dangerous,’ he added.
‘Groups like ISIS and al Qaeda seek to sow chaos and destruction in our country, and often operate from war-torn and failed countries while leading their global terror network. It is crucial that we properly vet those seeking to come to America from these locations, and failing to do so puts us all in danger.’
The administration has said the ban was needed to allow an internal review of the screening procedures for visa applicants from the six relevant countries.
That review should be complete before October 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.
The Supreme Court could have a vacancy by the time that autumn session rolls around, if Justice Anthony decides to retire as some expect.
Kennedy did not use the occasion of Monday’s scheduled high court announcements to say he would be stepping down.
But if he does, President Donald Trump will have a second pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy’s departure could also allow conservatives to take firm control of the court.
Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so.
Washington was abuzz with talk this weekend that President Donald Trump may soon have another chance to nominate a judge to the highest court in the land.
If the speculation pans out, that would give Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration.
Kennedy did not address the retirement rumors when he and his clerks gathered over the weekend for a reunion, according to three clerks who were there. The decision to push up the reunion by a year helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.
Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to President Trump, declined Monday to join in on the conjecture.
‘That is totally Justice Kennedy’s decision and he has served for 30 years, almost 30 years, with distinction and care on the Court and that is entirely his decision,’ she said on Fox & Friends.
‘I do know that the president, when he appointed Neil Gorsuch, made very clear that at any time that he gets a federal appointment, whether it’s the Supreme Court level of the District courts the circuit courts, he will appoint people who have fidelity to the Constitution, they won’t legislate from the bench, make it up as they go along.’
Conway had declined to say in a Sunday interview whether the president and Kennedy had discussed retirement.
‘I will never reveal a conversation between a sitting justice and the president or the White House, but we’re paying very close attention to these last bit of decisions,’ she said on ABC News.
Justice Kennedy, who is known as a moderate Republican, was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1987.
Since Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006, Kennedy has been the key swing vote on a number of 5-4 decisions.
In 2015, Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case whose ruling mandated that same sex marriage be made legal nationwide.
The concluding paragraph of Kennedy’s 28-page majority opinion was even used by many same sex and heterosexual couples alike as their wedding vows.
‘No union is more profound than marriage,’ Kennedy’s opinion says, ‘for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.’
Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so.
Kennedy and his clerks were gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.
‘Soon we’ll know if rumors of Kennedy’s retirement are accurate,’ one former Kennedy clerk, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, said on Twitter Friday.