Attention on Supreme Court as justice weigh Trump travel ban

The justices narrowed the scope of lower court rulings that had completely blocked his March 6 executive order that Trump had said was needed to prevent terrorism in the United States, allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties such as family or business to the United States.

The Supreme Court decision, announced on the court's last day of term, could open up a legal minefield as lawyers try to prove an immigrant's claims of a "bona fide relationship" with a person in the United States. That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends September 30. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined in that opinion. The Trump administration has argued that the president has the authority to write new policies concerning immigration in the interest of national security.

The justices will begin to hear cases again October 2. The opinion was unsigned.

Today's Supreme Court decision was significant in one way - there was no mention at all of various items that received a lot of attention from lower court judges. "So whatever burdens may result from enforcement of (the ban) against a foreign national who lacks any connection to this country, they are, at a minimum, a good deal less concrete than the hardships identified by the courts below".

The high-stakes legal fight has been going on since President Donald Trump rolled out a travel ban just a week after his inauguration.

Mr Trump signed an executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries within his first week in office, a move that caused chaos at airports across the country and prompted multiple law suits.

Saying the petitions and injunctions "are accordingly ripe for consideration", the Supreme Court said on Monday that the two cases will be consolidated.

The Supreme Court justices will fully consider the arguments on both sides next autumn.

A federal district judge in Maryland stopped the portion of the order affecting travelers from the six countries; a judge in Hawaii froze that portion and the part affecting the refugee programs. And the justices said they'll take on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado.

Monday's order in International Refugee Assistance Project is short on analysis of the legality of the Muslim ban itself and long on criticism of the lower courts for issuing overbroad injunctions.

The Supreme Court said that reasoning was legitimate, which is why it provided exceptions for those with a "bona fide" relationship with the its lifting of the block imposed by those courts. The state of Washington, which sued the administration over the original policy, cited the cases of several students and "medicine and science interns" who had planned to spend time at two state universities but were blocked from entering the country.

"The order does not offer a sufficient justification to suspend the entry of more than 180 million people on the basis of nationality", the 9th Circuit judges wrote. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled 10-3 that it discriminated against Muslims by targeting only countries with overwhelmingly large Muslim majorities.

  • Rogelio Becker