The US Supreme Court on Monday allowed the newest version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to take effect pending appeal.
This is the first time justices have allowed any edition of the ban to go forward in its entirety. It signals that some of the justices might be distinguishing the latest version from previous iterations and could be more likely, in the future, to rule in favor of the ban.
Issued in September, the third edition of the travel ban placed varying levels of restrictions on foreign nationals from eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen.
Lower courts in two separate challenges had partially blocked the ban.
The order is a significant temporary win for the Trump administration, which has fought all year to impose a travel ban against citizens of several Muslim-majority countries. Monday’s order means it can be enforced while challenges to the policy make their way through the legal system.
The Trump administration has maintained that the President has the authority to install travel bans in order to protect national security.
“The Constitution and acts of Congress confer on the President broad authority to prevent aliens abroad from entering this country when he deems it in the nation’s interest,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in court papers. Francisco argued that the ban was necessary “in order to protect national security.”
The White House said it was “not surprised” by Monday’s order.
“We are not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said. “The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts.”
In his arguments, Francisco pushed back on allegations from critics that the travel ban amounted to a “Muslim Ban” in part by noting that the latest iteration covers some countries that are not majority Muslim. “These differences confirm that the Proclamation is based on national-security and foreign-affairs objectives, not religious animus,” he wrote.
But after Francisco made those arguments, the President caused controversy by retweeting three inflammatory videos from a British far-right account rife with anti-Muslim content.
The videos, posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right and ultra-nationalist political group, depict purported Muslims assaulting people and, in one video, smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the administration’s request.
Challenges against the travel ban will continue this week on both coasts.
In the Hawaii case, a district court judge blocked the ban from going into effect except as it pertains to Venezuela and North Korea. But a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals partially lifted that order. The appeals court allowed the ban to go into effect except for foreign nationals who have “bona fide” relationships with people or entities in the United States. The language of the order was adopted from a Supreme Court order pertaining to an earlier version of the ban.
Neal Katyal, representing Hawaii, had urged the justices to leave the lower court’s ruling – that echoed the justices’ own words from the previous case – intact.
“This court has already struck the equitable balance that governs this appeal, and the President’s claim to unlimited power over immigration remains without merit,” Katyal argued.
In a separate challenge out of Maryland brought by, among others, the International Refugee Assistance Project, US District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang issued a similar order also partially enjoining the ban in a case that is now pending before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Both cases are scheduled to be heard before the appeals courts this week.