While the White House is celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Democrats are angry at the idea of a policy they say runs contrary to fundamental US values.
“I think it’s clear that the history of this travel ban is one that is not to the credit of the United States,” Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, told CNN. “First, the President came out with a travel ban, which had to be rewritten at least one time, maybe twice and the net result of it sadly was to suggest that when it came to countries with large Muslim populations, they weren’t welcome in the United States.”
The Illinois senator continued: “We need to keep out every dangerous person who tries to come in this country, but to categorically brand people because of their religion or their background or country they’re from is just not the way we should do things in America.”
He acknowledged that regardless of his unhappiness with the decision, he doesn’t see Congress doing anything to overturn it.
“Of course, I don’t agree with the Supreme Court ruling but I’m a realist when it comes to legislation on the floor of the Senate and the House,” he told CNN. “It’s doubtful that anything is going to move forward.”
Unlike Durbin, however, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said in a statement he plans to introduce legislation “to make clear that in the United States, we will not tolerate discrimination based on religion or nationality, and I invite everyone who treasures our American values to join me in defending them.”
“The President’s travel ban is not only discriminatory and counterproductive; it stands in direct contrast to the principles embedded in our Constitution and our founders’ vision of a nation where all people are free to worship as they choose,” said Coons, who’s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut was also more hopeful.
“There is no question,” he said when asked about a reversal in the ruling. “There has to be legislation to protect our essential liberties, our image around the world which is very much at risk and at stake here. The Congress now has work to do. It cannot simply allow the courts to determine … what our future is in this area.”
The ruling sends a strong message that the President has broad powers under immigration law to act to protect national security and that statements made during a campaign may not be legally determinative of an executive’s intent.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker argued that if the ban was really about the safety of the country, “it would be a different list of countries.”
“We need to reclaim our values. It’s not partisan values,” he said. “We just cannot walk away from the fact of how this all started, which was a President that said he wanted to ban Muslims from our country.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also slammed the decision from the Supreme Court, calling it a “cruel ban.”
“The Supreme Court’s dangerous ruling undermines our values, our security and our Constitution,” she said in a statement. “No matter how many times the President rewrites his un-American Muslim ban, it won’t change the fact that this historic injustice is immoral and dangerous.”
And Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, predicted the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Trump’s travel ban will end up in “the dust bin of history,” adding that Trump has tailored the court to “his ugly philosophy.”
“Our country has gone through some ugly days. The Supreme Court in the 1850s said that it was OK to own a black person, that was the Dred Scott decision. That decision hit the dust bin of history … and this one will too,” he told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour.”
Republican speaks out
Sen. Jeff Flake, who is retiring at the end of his term and is a frequent critic of Trump, was among the first Republicans to speak out against the ban.
“I don’t think it’s wise,” he told CNN about upholding the travel ban. “I don’t think it lends to a matter of national security.”
He continued: “The President’s intent was pretty much outlined in December of ’15 – when he said he wanted a Muslim ban of all Muslims entering the United States … I think they got it to where they needed to be constitutional but I think the world sees it for what it is intended to be.”
He’s spoken out about the ban before. In Flake’s book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” he said his family can testify to the value that immigrants from majority-Muslim countries have brought to their life.
“I have a chapter in there about some doctors that saved my father-in-law. They came from majority-Muslim countries that under the current travel ban, they probably wouldn’t be here,” he said. “So I think we ought to look as Republicans, I hope we are always welcoming of immigrants.”
CNN’s Ashley Killough and Clare Foran contributed to this report.