The Supreme Court has decided that President Donald Trump‘s most recent travel ban that targets six Muslim-majority countries can go into full effect, handing a victory to the President even as legal challenges remain in lower courts.
The court ruled to lift two injunctions that have dogged the controversial travel ban, with two of the nine justices dissenting on the issue. Lower courts had blocked the implementation of the ban, which is the third version of the policy that the Trump administration has pushed this year.
Even as the Supreme Court made its decision Monday, two other challenges to the ban made their way through lower courts that could potentially stall Mr Trump’s executive order further. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals are scheduled to hear arguments on the legality of the ban later in the week.
Those two courts are considering the merits of the issue in an accelerated manner. The Supreme Court has noted that it expects those court decisions “with appropriate dispatch”.
Still, although those challenges may present obstacles for the Trump administration, the Supreme Court decision represents a significant victory on an issue that has sparked intense debate in the nation and brought protesters to the streets in opposition. Mr Trump’s first travel ban, which he announced soon after he took office, was quickly blocked by a judge. The second was blocked before implementation, but later allowed to go forward following a Supreme Court decision that deferred issues of national security to the President.
The ban targets people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The lower courts had said that people from any of those countries could not be kept from the US if they could prove they had a ”bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States. The court sought to include people like grandparents and cousins among those with a “bona fide” relationship to anyone living in the United States.
Mr Trump’s travel bans, which are essentially the fulfilment of promises he made on the campaign in which he vowed to keep Muslims from entering the United States, have proved to be deeply polarising. Almost immediately after Mr Trump’s administration announced its first iteration of the travel ban, protesters flocked to the nation’s airports to express disgust with one of the first significant acts by the new administration. Federal judges soon after intervened, however, and blocked the ban from going into effect.
After several attempts to revive it, the Trump administration ultimately decided against pursuing changes to that first executive order, and began working on a second order that they hoped could stand up to judicial scrutiny.
The second travel ban was introduced by the Trump administration in March, and attempted to avoid the same sort of uproar that brought crowds to the airports by having a delayed implementation date. But, days after it was announced, the state of Hawaii sued to block the executive order, and a federal judge blocked the ban a little over a week after it was unveiled. The ban was stuck in legal limbo until late June, when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the President’s agenda.
The ban, after being implemented, received challenges from there on out – primarily regarding regulations surrounding refugee settlement in the US – but remained mostly intact. Mr Trump signed a new travel ban into effect in late September just as the previous ban was set to expire, modifying the restrictions and which countries were targeted. The new iteration of the ban was later blocked by a federal judge in October, leading to a months-long battle leading to Monday’s decision.
The news that the ban would go into effect was met with criticism from activists, some of whom argued that it is an extension of the President’s personal prejudices.
“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret – he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones. We will be arguing Friday in the Fourth Circuit that the ban should ultimately be struck down.”