December 4, 2017; Minneapolis Star Tribune
Over the past year, NPQ has been following the progress of President Trump’s ostensible travel ban, which prevented the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US until internal policies relating to the information provided to customs by those countries undergoes extensive review. On Monday afternoon, the Supreme Court ruled that the White House will be allowed to enforce the ban until the final rulings on challenges to it are issued.
The ban imposes restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. We will pause here to point out the absurdity of blocking Syrian refugees out based on the absence of paperwork when so much of their country, including the government offices that issue such paperwork, has been destroyed. The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said, “The Supreme Court’s actions today are a good reminder that we can’t simply rely on the courts to address the Trump administration’s efforts to marginalize Muslims and other minorities.”
NPQ’s Carole Levine warned earlier this year that the Trump administration was rapidly appointing judges to vacant federal court positions, which are held for life. She explained, “The conservative leanings of the source organizations that are recommending these judges and their support for…laws that influence how nonprofits sustain themselves should make who these nominees are a priority for the nonprofit sector.” That has become evident as the liberal Ninth and Fourth Circuit rulings are stymied by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court.
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Previously, injunctions related to the court challenges had allowed entry to people with “‘a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,’ quoting from a Supreme Court order issued in June concerning the second travel ban,” according to Adam Liptak at the New York Times. The “bona fide” distinction cause a wave of confusion, as people wondered what degree of family relationship would be deemed acceptable or how their employers would react. It opened the administration to waves of potential litigation on behalf of individual applicants.
Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told the Washington Post, “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims.” The ACLU represents the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), which is one of the groups to legally challenge the travel ban and whose case is pending in the Fourth Circuit. IRAP’s Litigation Director, Mariko Hirose, said in a statement,
The Supreme Court’s decision will prevent many eligible people from reuniting with their families, resuming their studies, or taking up jobs. While this ruling will have devastating consequences for these individuals and the Muslim community at large, IRAP and our partners will not give up fighting until this discriminatory ban is blocked in its entirety.
Is this lifting of injunctions an indication of a potential future ruling? With the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch in place of Merrick Garland, the Court leans to the right; only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor opposed lifting the injunction. SCOTUS has promised to include the travel ban in its 2017–2018 docket, so advocacy groups will need to follow the Court’s proceedings closely from here on.—Erin Rubin