The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban against a broad legal attack, giving him a legal and political victory on a controversy that helped define his presidency.
The vote Tuesday was 5-4 along ideological grounds. The court rejected contentions that Trump had exceeded his authority and violated the Constitution by targeting Muslims.
The ruling ends a legal saga that dates to the beginning of the Trump presidency and helped define his assertive, divisive leadership style. The decision bolsters the president’s already broad control over the nation’s borders.
A Hawaii-led group of challengers at the Supreme Court said the policy was the embodiment of Trump’s December 2015 campaign call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said those comments weren’t enough to strike down the policy.
“The issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements,” Roberts wrote. “It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility.”
‘Ignoring the Facts’
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.
Sotomayor accused the majority of “ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.”
The ban in its current form affects seven countries, five of them predominantly Muslim, and indefinitely bars more than 150 million people from entering the country.
The first version of the ban triggered airport chaos and protests when Trump put it in place a week after taking office last year. Judges quickly blocked that version, but subsequent changes made the policy more palatable to the courts.
The case is Trump v. Hawaii, 17-965.
–With assistance from Alexa Green.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.