The Supreme Court on Monday gave President Trump another major win by granting his administration’s request to fully reinstate the third version of his travel ban.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and a federal district court in Maryland had said Trump could only block the entry of nationals from the six majority-Muslim countries in the ban — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad — if they lacked a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. The high court’s decision now puts those rulings on hold.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the government’s request.
"We are not surprised by today's Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President's proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism," said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
"The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts," Gidley said.
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE, meanwhile, called it a “substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people.”
“We are pleased to have defended this order and heartened that a clear majority Supreme Court has allowed the President’s lawful proclamation protecting our country’s national security to go into full effect,” he said in a statement. “The Constitution gives the President the responsibility and power to protect this country from all threats foreign and domestic, and this order remains vital to accomplishing those goals.”
The state of Hawaii and the International Refugee Assistance Project challenged Trump’s latest ban, arguing the Supreme Court carved out the same bona fide relationship exemption in June when it partially reinstated Trump’s 90-day ban on nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.
When that order expired on Sept. 24, Trump issued new restrictions that eliminated Sudan from the ban but added Chad, North Korea and individuals affiliated with certain government agencies in Venezuela. The lower court bans did not block the restrictions on Venezuelan officials or immigrants from North Korea.
The Trump administration argued that a lot has changed since June.
“Multiple government agencies have conducted a comprehensive, worldwide review of the information shared by foreign governments that is used to screen aliens seeking entry to the United States,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in court papers.
“Based on that review, the proclamation adopts tailored entry restrictions to address extensive findings that a handful of particular foreign governments have deficient information-sharing and identity-management practices, or other risk factors,” he said.
Hawaii’s attorney, Neal Katyal, said in court papers “it is difficult to conceive of a more flagrant example of discrimination because of nationality.”
International Refugee Assistance Project attorney Omar Jadwat sent a letter to the court Monday morning to inform the justices of “changed circumstances” in the case, specifically the controversial videos about Muslims that Trump retweeted last week.
Jadwat also informed the court that the sister-in-law of one plaintiff in the case and the mother-in-law of another had received their visas.
He said the fact that these “particular plaintiffs have now been reunited with their loved ones — or some of their loved ones — thanks to the preliminary injunction underscores how imminent the proclamation’s threatened injuries are and how crucial the injunction in this case is for the plaintiffs and others similarly situated.”
The court's decision to reinstate the full ban came a few hours later.
Monday marked the second time the Supreme Court has been asked to intervene on the president's travel restrictions. The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments and ultimately tossed out two cases challenging Trump’s previous ban in October. The move was largely seen as a victory for the administration even though the court did not rule on the merits of the case.
The justices said the cases were moot since the orders had expired and there was no longer a “live case or controversy” to settle.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in Hawaii’s challenge to the ban on Wednesday, while the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in the refugee groups' challenge on Friday.
The 9th Circuit is based in San Francisco, while the 4th Circuit is based in Richmond, Va.
“In light of its decision to consider the case on an expedited basis, we expect that the Court of Appeals will render its decision with appropriate dispatch,” the Supreme Court order said.
Department of Homeland Security acting Spokesman Tyler Houlton said the agency is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision and will “continue to fully implement the President’s robust and Constitutional counterterrorism agenda in accordance with the law.”
“The frontline personnel of the Department are committed to protecting the U.S. from threats across the globe,” he said in a statement.
“The Administration’s common sense travel restrictions on countries that do not meet basic security standards and do not share critical information with us about terrorists and criminals are designed to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe.”
In a statement Monday evening, Jadwat, director of the Immigrant Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said “President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret — he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter.”
“It's unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones,” he said. “We will be arguing Friday in the Fourth Circuit that the ban should ultimately be struck down.”
— Jordan Fabian contributed. Last updated at 7:37 p.m.