The United States Supreme Court issued an unsigned order on Monday, allowing a very limited version of the travel ban the President attempted to implement by executive order in January. The original travel ban would have imposed a total ban, for a period of 90 days, on entry into the United States by citizens from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Yemen and the Sudan. It also sought to indefinitely suspend any entry into the country by refugees from Syria. After a number of federal courts ruled the order unconstitutional, the President revised it to limit the ban on refugees from Syria to 120 days.
The ruling handed down by the Supreme Court mandated a compromise—the court said that the ban could go forward, but that the government could not prohibit anyone with a “bona fide” connection to the United States from coming into the country. That might include having a job or having been accepted to an American University, or it might involve having a family member currently legally residing in the United States.
The court found that the total ban exceeded the president’s scope of authority under the Constitution, but also ruled that a complete freeze on the ban by lower federal courts went too far. Specifically, the court said that, when a foreign national has no ties to the United States, the “government’s interest in enforcing the executive order, and the Executive’s authority to do so, are undoubtedly at their peak.”
The court’s opinion made it clear that the current ruling is only temporary, as the justices said they will hear oral arguments in the fall on the fundamental issues in the case—religious freedom and the breadth of the president’s powers to protect the nation. However, the court suggested that the administration should use the ensuing months to review and revise its vetting procedures for persons entering the country. The court said it “fully expect[ed] that the relief we grant today will permit the Executive to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within 90 days.” Accordingly, if the administration completes that process before the fall term starts for the Supreme Court, the issue may be moot.
Critics of the travel ban fear, however, that the president may be emboldened to try to extend the travel ban or even make it permanent.
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