The U.S. Supreme Court handed Pres. Donald J. Trump another major victory when it upheld his controversial Travel Ban. By executive order, Pres. Trump had banned travel for 90 days from six predominantly Muslim countries deemed failed states and inherent threats by the previous Obama Administration. The presidential proclamation also called for a stay on refugee admission for 120 days.
The case will go down in the annuals of history as the Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, but contemporary pundits, politicos and the American public understand this was an outsider president taking on Washington, D.C.’s political swamp.
In a telling 9-0 decision to affirm major portions of the ban, three justices called for complete support of executive authority in the matter. The high court’s ruling may have shined a light on the “judge shopping” and partisan political activism of the 4th and 9th Circuits appeals courts. The ranks of 9th Circuit are primarily former Pres. Bill Clinton appointees while 4th Circuit judges owe their tenure to former Pres. Obama. After all the courtroom clashes and appeals, the 13 judges that ruled against the Trump Travel Ban were all staunch Democrats that failed to recuse themselves. The makeup of the SCOTUS falls 4-4 with Justice Anthony Kennedy being the lone, moderate swing vote. Despite the mixed political makeup, the lower courts’ injunctions didn’t garner single Left-leaning vote to uphold.
The makeup of the SCOTUS falls 4-4 with Justice Anthony Kennedy being the lone, moderate swing vote. Despite the mixed political makeup, the lower courts’ injunctions didn’t garner single Left-leaning vote to uphold.
Trump’s Biggest Win
The fortunes of the White House have turned in recent weeks. Special elections touted by opponents as “referendums on Trump” have swung Republican 5-0. Trade deals and deregulation have created record-highs in the stock market, and the creation of more than 600,000 jobs and unemployment hit a 16-year low in May. Despite an opposition party determined to “resist” and “obstruct,” overturning the liberal courts’ Travel Ban injunctions gives the upstart president a historic win that solidifies executive authority for the ages.
In hindsight, it’s hard to reconcile the long-game played by Trump’s political adversaries. The authority of a sitting president is built into the U.S. Constitution and expressly reaffirmed in 1952 by Congress, that promulgated the president may “suspend the entry of all aliens and any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants.” Savvy Washington insiders could have predicted the injunctions would fail at the high court and the American public, in turn, would view lower federal courts as nothing more than political hacks.
Pundits and media outlets appear to be attempting to minimize the stinging rebuke, claiming only parts of the Travel Ban passed muster. In reality, the high court allowed only “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” exemption from the ban. Such persons are still subject to Department of Homeland Security scrutiny, extreme vetting and government approval. Basically, if someone from the six countries had a grandmother in the hospital and they needed to get to the U.S., they may be exempt if they met DHS standards. That’s a very slim group and all others are simply subject to the ban.
While pres. Trump sought only 90- and 120-day admission delays, the SCOTUS ruling may have touched off a firestorm. Neither the U.S. Constitution nor federal law place time restrictions on the president’s authority to bar foreign nationals. Nothing prevents Pres. Trump from re-issuing ban after ban for the entirety of his four- or potentially eight-year tenure.
With regard to refugees, executive power and the underlying notion of national security supersedes federal refugee programs and quotas. Given the rise of terrorist activity associated with the mass refugee influx in Europe and rising crime in Sweden, Pres. Trump could legitimately terminate admission indefinitely. What opposing forces may not have banked on is the fact the president bears no burden to prove he’s right. The power over travel rests solely with Pres. Trump and the Supreme Court just emboldened him.