You shall not pass: Travel ban deemed constitutional by US Supreme Court

6 mins read

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in upholding the constitutionality of the long-contested Trump Administration travel ban, in the case of Trump v. Hawaii.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) upheld the constitutionality of the long-contested Trump Administration travel ban. The policy bars incoming travel from five Muslim-majority countriesIran,Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and some officials from North Korea and Venezuela. Aside from the overt religious discrimination, the 92-page travel ban also targets nations with largely Black or Brown constituencies.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Democratic lawmakers have strongly denounced the court’s ruling, while, Donald Trump and Republican legislators claim a win for American borders.

Detroit, Mich. – 26 JUNE 2018: Representative Stephanie Chang speaks in protest against the supreme court’s ruling on the muslim ban at demonstration.

The Decision

The decision in the lawsuit tackled  two important question regarding the power of POTUS in banning citizens of specific countries from entering the US; and if the executive order unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims.

In the majority opinion of Trump v. Hawaii, chief Justice on the SCOTUS, John Roberts, wrote that Trump was well “within the scope of Presidential authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).” Publicly declaring for first time in the history of the Supreme Court, that the precedent used to delegitimize Trump’s proposal, Korematsu v. United States (1944), was wrongly decided. Thus, it was no longer a good, comparable law to uphold.

Korematsu v. United States, is a historical case that released the Japanese from internment camps after WWII because US courts found their detainment to be illegal. Eventually, it led to reparations for them.

In a turn from an oft-moderate position, Justice Anthony Kennedy upheld the travel ban in his concurring opinion., In his remarks, he warned government officials that they are not “free to disregard the Constitution and the rights it proclaims and protects.”

However, in an epic dissenting opinion, Justice on the court, Sonia Sotomayor, said the majority was wrong to ignore Trump’s intentions behind the ban. She asserts, “[The Trump ban] leaves, undisturbed, a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’ because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns.”

Sotomayor maintains that the ban “fails to safeguard” the “principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment.” Along with fellow justice of the ruling judiciary body, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Sotomayor wrote one of the two dissenting opinions on the matter.

A History of Refusal

San Francisco, Calif. – 29 January 2017: Thousands of protesters gather at San Francisco International Airport to protest President Trump’s travel ban on Muslims.

Starting in December of 2017, Trump’s then-campaign issued a release proposing the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” after the mass shooting of 14 people by Islamic extremists in San Bernadino, California.

Following the initial denouncement of the proposal from both sides of the political aisle, the legislation transformed from “just a [temporary] suggestion” in May 2016, to an executive order preventing “terrorist entry” from these territories in January 2017.

Challenging Trump’s executive order as a “Muslim-ban”, the ACLU, the state of Hawaii, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) on behalf of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the Middle East Studies Association, other partner organizations and private citizens affected by the ban filed federal lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

The complaints charged Trump’s proposed banl with violating the first, (prohibition of government establishment of religion) and fifth (guarantees of equal treatment under the law) amendments, among others, in the US Constitution.

Eventually, the proposal continued to evolve from the executive order, into a USSC blocked revision in February 2017, and now a policy deemed constitutional within the power of the executive office/branch.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – 25 JUNE 2018; Protester at White House.

The SCOTUS decision drew mixed reactions from the public and those on Capitol Hill, alike.

In an article released shortly after the decision, Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, deemed the decision as “one of the Supreme Court’s great failures.” Jadwat clarifies, “[The ruling] repeats the mistakes of the Korematsu decision upholding Japanese-American imprisonment and swallows…flimsy national security excuse[s] for the ban, instead of taking seriously the president’s own explanation for his action.”  Similarly, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) found the court’s decision to be “absolutely abhorrent,” as she questions the judicial body’s determination of a non-religious nature/basis behind Trump’s intentions on the ban, when Trump himself inserted Islam into the narrative/as the source of the issue.

On one hand, many others are disgruntled about the Administration’s unnecessarily discriminatory lean that criminalizes immigrants.

For instance, Rep Richard Neal (D-Mass.) proclaimed that the SCOTUS decision actively “endorsed discrimination.”

While, Sen. Ed Markey, (D-Mass.) went on to chastise “[the] Republican-controlled Senate” for cementing “Donald Trump’s legacy of hate” by way of stealing a SCOTUS seat, in reference to Trump-era justice and “archconservative,” Neil Gorsuch. Subsequently, damning crucial decisions, like the ban.

Yet on the other hand, flooding social media in agreement, elected Republican officials wrote reaffirming messages of the court’s decision to protect American boundaries.

Shortly after the decision was handed down, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), expressed his approval, via Twitter, of the SCOTUS ruling. He states that the Supreme Court made the right decision, citing that Trump “ran on putting American[s] first again…and today’s ruling affirms that authority.”

As per a press release from his office, of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) reaffirmed Scalise’s sentiments. It read, “Congress has long delegated to the president the authority to regulate the entry of people into the United States, particularly from war-torn countries or well-known state sponsors of terrorism.”

Shithole Countries

DETROIT, Mich. – 26 JUNE 2018: Protestors hold a sign that says “Take on Hate” to protest the supreme court’s ruling on the muslim ban in Detroit, MI.

With many accusations of bigotry behind it, many believe that Trump’s ban is a targeted attack on people of color and Islamic populations from developing countries.

In January, Trump infamously referred to Haiti, El Salvador and a plethora of continental African nations as “shithole countries, ” while discussing immigrant protections with legislators as part of a bipartisan immigration deal in Washington.

Seemingly, the Trump only desires migration deemed beneficial to US. As The Washington Post reports, Trump proceeded the comments with a suggestion to, instead, bring more people from nation-states such as Norway, a majority white-identifying region.

In addition, with the speedy advancement of Asian economies,, Trump supposedly made suggestions of increasing Asian immigrant populations because he felt that they help the US economy.

City Upon a Hill

Considering the polarizing debate, Jadwat tasks elected officials with the following, “If you are not taking actions to rescind and dismantle Trump’s Muslim ban, you are not upholding this country’s most basic principles of freedom and equality.”

Ironically, after rebuking Trump in his concurring opinion the day before, Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday.

With the recent decision, political opposition to Trump administration has declared a legislative war on the enactment. For instance, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) explained on Tuesday, that though the USSC ruling stated that the travel ban is constitutional, it “doesn’t mean that it’s right, that it’s justified or that it reflects America’s values.” He plans to introduce anti-prejudice legislation, showing that the U.S. does “not tolerate discrimination based on religion or nationality.”

[give_form id=”545″]

Yolanda Aguilera focuses on culture, politics, policy and Afro-Latinidad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Africans and Black immigrants at the US-Mexico Border

Next Story

We will not be moved: In response to violence against the Press | Think Piece

Latest from Government & Policy