In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the executive order issued by President Donald Trump banning people from six Muslim-majority countries and Venezuela from entering the country is lawful.
The vote split along ideological lines, with the majority of the conservative justices endorsing the third version of the immigration veto issued in September 2017.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion in the case.The Proclamation, arguing that "the Proclamation is squarely within the framework of presidential authority" and that "it is expressly based on legitimate purposes: preventing the entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion.
The majority of the judges also determined that three additional features of the entry policy support the federal government's claim of a legitimate national security interest. First, since President Trump introduced the entry restrictions in January 2017, three Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Sudan, and Chad) have been removed from the list. Second, for those countries that are still subject to entry restrictions, the Proclamation includes numerous exceptions for various categories of foreign nationals. Finally, the Proclamation creates a waiver program open to all covered foreign nationals seeking entry as immigrants or nonimmigrants.
The ruling ends the legal battle that raged after President Trump issued the first immigration veto in January 2017 banning citizens of predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Opponents of the measure sued, claiming that the veto violated the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits favoring one religion over another. A majority of the justices ruled that this was not the case.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion, seconded by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
"The United States of America is a nation built on the promise of religious freedom. Our founders honored that promise by including the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The court's decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle."
Venezuela among the countries included in the immigration veto
The latest version of the immigration veto affects citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. But in the case of the Latin American country, it only affects certain government officials and their family members applying for non-immigrant business visas or tourist visas.
The final immigration veto excludes people who have already been granted asylum.