The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of President Donald Trump’s September order to restrict travel from several majority Muslim countries to the United States.
In the 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court found that Trump’s travel restriction fell “squarely” within the president’s authority. The court rejected claims that the ban was motivated by religious hostility.
“The [order] is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices,” Roberts wrote. “The text says nothing about religion.”
The case, Trump v. Hawaii, has been central to the administration’s travel policy, presenting a key test of the president’s campaign promise to restrict immigration and secure America’s borders.
Trump, who issued the ban in September, hailed the ruling in the case.
“Though I am disappointed by the outcome, I am heartened that our system of government worked as the founders intended,” Neal Katyal, attorney for the challengers, said in a statement. “Now that the Court has upheld it, it is up to Congress to do its job and reverse President Trump’s unilateral and unwise travel ban.”
After his tweet, the president said in a statement that the ruling was a “profound vindication” after “months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision today was unsurprising,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, the co-author of a 21-volume book on U.S. immigration law. Yale-Loehr signed onto an amicus brief on behalf of Hawaii.
“Because immigration touches on national sovereignty and foreign relations, courts have generally deferred to the president on immigration issues,” he said.
Trump tweets not the issue, court says
Hawaii alleged that the restriction was motivated by religious discrimination, noting that a majority of the countries included in the ban have primarily Muslim populations. The case began in November, when Trump’s solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to stay a ruling from a federal judge in Hawaii who blocked the ban. In response to the administration’s move, Hawaii argued that the travel ban would cause families of Hawaiian residents to be separated, harm the University of Hawaii and do damage to “the public as a whole inflicted by a radical departure from the status quo that had existed for decades.”
American presidents have “performed unevenly in living up to those inspiring words,” Roberts said.
Trump has said the ban is not about Islam.
“This is not about religion—this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” he said in January 2017, after facing criticism over the first version of the order.
That initial order, signed a week after Trump’s inauguration, led to days administrative chaos and protests at airports around the country. It banned entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and indefinitely halted resettlement of refugees from Syria’s civil war.