The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump acted lawfully in issuing a travel ban that includes five Muslim-majority countries. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a 5-4 majority that fell along partisan lines.
The State of Hawaii, three individuals with foreign relatives, and the Muslim Association of Hawaii filed suit to block the ban, arguing it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. In December, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect while legal challenges were pending.
“The Proclamation is squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA,” wrote Roberts for the majority. The court found in issuing the ban, Trump had met the prerequisite “that the entry of the covered aliens ‘would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.’”
Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel Alito joined the majority opinion. Thomas and Kennedy each filed concurring opinions. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented joined by Justice Elena Kagan, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor also dissented joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump’s third and narrowest travel ban in the early days of his adminstration barred citizens of the included countries from emigrating to the U.S. as well as working, studying or vacationing. The eight nations originally included Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Six are predominantly Muslim, though Chad was eventually removed from the list. The proclamation exempts U.S. permanent residents and gives waivers on a case-by-case basis.
The federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ban’s restrictions, which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on the grounds it violated provisions of the INA. The Ninth Circuit did not reach the Establishment Clause claims.