The ruling allows the Trump administration to begin implementing its Middle East refugee and travel ban, except for immigrants with bona fide familial and business relationships in the United States.
On the final day of the Supreme Court's term, the Justices decided to hear the challenge to President Donald Trump's travel ban executive order.
Formally known as Executive Order 13780: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,
the President took action earlier this year to suspend immigration from six countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for at least 90 days. A previous version of the executive order listed Iraq as well, however, the country was removed from the ban's second iteration. The order also suspended refugee admissions entirely for 120 days and reduced the country's refugee quota to just 50,000.
On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump promised to enact a ban on Muslim immigration following the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. While Trump eventually walked back this promise and pledged to instead focus on immigration from terror hotbeds, his comments on a Muslim ban followed him into court.
Activist groups sued the President to block EO 13780 from going into effect, arguing that the President's campaign comments on a Muslim ban could not be ignored. After District Courts in Hawaii and Virginia ruled against President Trump's proposal, both the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco and the Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond upheld the lower courts' injunctions. Even though the executive order made no mention of religion, these Appeals Courts ruled that the campaign promises about a Muslim ban proved there was prejudice and religious animus behind the revised order.
This led the White House to appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court. On Monday morning, just before adjourning, the Supreme Court issued its decision. Not only would they take up the White House's appeal in the coming fall, but they would allow the President to begin enacting his travel ban in the meantime.
There was one important caveat: the White House cannot ban any refugees or immigrants who have a bona fide familial or business relationship with someone or something in the United States. That means that immigrants are still allowed to come visit their close family members and Middle Eastern professors will be allowed to lecture at American universities. Other than this exception, the President's executive order is to now go into effect 72 hours after the ruling.
In order for the Supreme Court to take action on a petition, at least five Justices need to be in agreement. That means that the majority of the Supreme Court agreed that the case should be heard and that the President should be allowed to implement his executive order until then. Notably, none of the Court's left-leaning Justices issued dissents.
What does this mean? The Supreme Court's decision is final. Until they hear oral arguments in the fall and rule on the merits of the case, the President's executive order cannot be blocked by any lower court. Congress could intervene and block the President's actions, but this is seen as incredibly unlikely.
No new refugees will be allowed into the United States until October 27, 2017. Once refugee admission resumes, the total number of refugees admitted into the United States will be capped at 50,000 (roughly half of the amount prescribed by the Obama administration). Additionally, immigration from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen will be shut down until at least September 27, 2017.
While these bans are in effect, the Department of Homeland Security will devise new "extreme vetting" policies to ensure that when the ban is lifted, terrorists and extremists will be stopped from entering the country. The new policies are expected to focus more on visa applicants' social media profiles to search for any signs of extremism or radicalization. After the San Bernardino terror attack, it was revealed that shooter and immigrant Tashfeen Malik posted extremist messages on social media, however, those accounts were never scrutinized by immigration authorities.
What do you think? Was the Supreme Court correct to let President Trump begin enacting his travel ban executive order? Let us know in the comments below!