Search This Blog

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Key to the SCOTUS Ruling on The Travel Ban

The Supreme Court ruled today on whether or not to allow enforcement of the ban on entry of people from six countries that have major problems with terrorism.  Previously, two federal courts of appeals had put a stay on enforcement of this executive order in place.  The Trump administration had appealed to SCOTUS and asked that the stay be lifted so that the travel ban could be enforced.  The Justice Department argued that the president had the clear power to impose the ban.  The lower courts, however, decided that statements that President Trump had made during the campaign showed that the intent of the ban was really religious discrimination which would violate the First Amendment.  To say the least, the lower court decisions turned constitutional law on its head and ignored some long-standing precedent from the Supreme Court.

SCOTUS lifted nearly the entire stay that the lower courts had put in place.  There will be further hearings on the issue next fall, but there are still some key points in the decision which must be noted.

1.  First of all, the decision to lift most of the stay was unanimous.  There was not a single justice who thought that the court should limit the power of the president to impose these sorts of restrictions under existing law.  This is key.  Remember, there are four liberal justices who one would to rule against Trump if the result were just political.  These justices, however, ruled in favor of established law.  There was a partial dissent by three justices, but that was over the Court should have left any part of the stay in place.

2.  The Supreme Court gave no weight to the argument that the President's statements during the campaign could alter the real meaning of the language used in the executive order.  This is well established law, but the lower courts ignored it nevertheless.  Here too there was not a single justice who supported the lower court position on this point.  Most likely it will be fully addressed in the further arguments in the fall, but today's ruling makes clear that the outcome will favor established law.

The decision today is a major victory for President Trump.  It guarantees presidential power.  It reduces judicial interference in the issue of immigration.  Most importantly, it makes clear that the endless protests of the executive order came from people who just wanted to ignore the law.  The Supreme Court has ended that now.

No comments: