No case before the Supreme Court this term drew more attention than Trump v. Hawaii, the legal challenge to President Trump’s third travel ban. On June 26, 2018, the Justices finally released their decision, upholding the President’s ban. In a majority decision written by the Chief Justice, the Court found that President Trump’s power of immigration was expansive and that his latest travel ban fits comfortably within that power. Turning back both statutory and constitutional challenges, the Court nevertheless expressed some skepticism about Trump’s negative statements toward Muslims.
Relying on 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), President Trump on September 24, 2017, placed restrictions on the entry of citizens from eight countries, most of which were majority-Muslim. This third travel ban followed on the heels of two other bans, which courts had struck down and which either Trump withdrew or which expired. The third ban included countries such as North Korea, Chad, Libya, Venezuela, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Immediately challenged in court, the ban suffered the same fate as Trump’s earlier two bans, with courts finding it beyond his power or else an exercise of religious discrimination. The Trump administration then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard his argument on April 25, 2018.
Relying heavily on statutory text, the Supreme Court found that Congress had given the President the power to exclude “any class of aliens” from the United States provided that the President found their admission would be “detrimental” to the country’s interests. The Court’s majority waived aside arguments that Congress only intended to grant the President the power to act in emergencies and for a limited amount of time.
Furthermore, the Court found that the ban had a rational basis to advance the nation’s security, so it survived any First Amendment challenges. Because the ban dealt with immigration, the majority held that they would not engage in the searching standard of review normally used in First Amendment cases. As a result, the Court held that the ban was a proper exercise of the President’s authority.
Although President Trump won this case, many of the Justices went out of their way to chide or warn him that religious and other bigotry will not be tolerated. For example, the majority appeared to overrule its Korematsu decision from World War II, which upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans on national-security grounds. Furthermore, Justice Kennedy stated in his concurrence it was an “urgent necessity” that government officials like Trump recognize and respect the freedom of religion.
Perhaps the strongest rebuke to Trump came from Justice Sotomayor, writing in dissent. Calling President Trump’s anti-Muslim comments “harrowing,” she charged the majority with abandoning the nation’s “most sacred legal commitments” and stated that she would have struck down the travel ban.
With the ban in effect, those hoping to reunite with loved ones from affected countries will need to reassess their options. The same goes for corporations, businesses, and universities hoping to sponsor someone from one of the countries on Trump’s list.
Of course, President Trump could add to the list, revoke the ban, or institute a new one. As with so many things with this Presidency, unpredictability is the only constant.
For help with your immigration issue, please reach out to Kriezelman Burton & Associates today. Our experienced Chicago immigration lawyers stay abreast of current developments in the law and can identify our clients’ best options in a challenging legal environment. Please contact us today to schedule your consultation.
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