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Supreme Court OKs Trump Travel Ban Pending Lower Court Rulings

Dec 4, 2017
Originally published on December 5, 2017 12:14 pm

Updated at 8:10 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to fully enforce its revised ban on allowing entry to the United States by residents of eight countries while legal challenges are heard by a federal appeals court.

Six of the countries — Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad and Somalia — are majority-Muslim nations. The other two are North Korea and Venezuela.

The announcement that the high court sided with the administration, which had requested a lifting of lower courts' rulings preventing full enforcement of the travel ban, came in a terse order without explanation of its reasoning. The justices also said that they expect the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to issue its ruling "with appropriate dispatch."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were dissenting votes.

Two appeals courts, the 9th and 4th circuits, are scheduled to hear arguments in separate cases challenging the travel ban this week.

So far, federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii — covered by those appeals courts — had partially blocked the ban. The judges had allowed travelers who have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, as required by the Supreme Court.

The lower courts said that this would include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers- and sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. Now even these people will be barred.

The justices appear to be accepting the administration's argument that the travel ban is needed for legitimate national security reasons and is not a blanket Muslim ban as critics have charged.

The administration has made the argument that this third version of the travel ban is different from the other two that had lost court challenges because it is based on an "extensive worldwide review process" of information used by foreign governments to screen its travelers. And the government also says it's different because non-Muslim countries are on the list.

Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley released a statement saying the White House is not surprised: "The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts."

Critics continued to insist that this latest version of the travel ban is, in fact, a Muslim ban.

The director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, Omar Jadwat, said "President Trump's anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret. He has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter." He was referring to Trump's tweets last week linking to anti-Muslim videos.

At least one legal observer, Carl Tobias, who teaches at the University of Richmond School of Law, says the government can claim this as a temporary victory and that this might be an indicator that the Supreme Court will side with the administration when all is said and done.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court has just handed the Trump administration a temporary victory in its effort to impose a travel ban on residents of certain countries. The justices have issued an order allowing full enforcement of the travel ban while legal challenges to that policy are heard in lower courts. NPR's Richard Gonzales is with us to explain what all this means. And, Richard, bring us up to date. What exactly does this ruling say?

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Well, the announcement comes in a very brief order issued late Monday. It will allow the Trump administration to fully enforce its revised ban. This is the third one. And this latest ban bars entry into the United States by residents of eight countries. Now, six of those countries - Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad and Somalia - are majority Muslim nations. The remaining two are North Korea and Venezuela. So the high court is taking the side of the administration for now. The justices also said that they expect the lower courts to issue their rulings with appropriate dispatch. Justices Ruth Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were dissenting votes here.

KELLY: And when you say the justices called on the lower courts to issue their rulings with appropriate dispatch - meaning pronto, get on with it - what exactly is happening in the lower courts right now?

GONZALES: Well, there are two courts of appeal, the 9th Circuit in California and the 4th Circuit in Maryland, who will be hearing arguments against the travel ban this week. Now, so far federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii had partially blocked the ban. The judges had allowed travelers who have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. And the courts have said that this would include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers and sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins into the United States. And this phrase bona fide relationship comes from language that the Supreme Court itself provided earlier this year when it was considering an earlier version of the travel ban. And now even these people will be barred.

KELLY: And you mention this is the third version of the travel ban that we're talking about now. What does this action from the court today possibly signal about where the court may ultimately land on this?

GONZALES: Well, it's interesting that the court provided no reason or explanation for its order today. But legal experts say that the justices appear to be accepting the administration's argument that the travel ban is needed for legitimate national security reasons and that it's not a blanket Muslim ban as critics have charged. The administration also has made the argument that this third version of the travel ban is different from the other two that had lost court challenges because this one is based on an extensive worldwide review process of information used by foreign governments to screen their travelers.

And the government says that the difference here is that there are non-Muslim countries who are on the list. And at least one legal observer, Carl Tobias, who teaches at the University of Richmond School of Law, says that the government can now claim this is a temporary victory and that this might be an indicator that the court will side with the administration when all is said and done.

KELLY: Well, what kind of reaction are you hearing from people who have opposed the travel ban?

GONZALES: The American Civil Liberties Union, or the ACLU, which is a party to this legal dispute, says no, this is really a Muslim ban. The director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, Omar Jadwat, says, quote, "President Trump's anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret," end quote. And Jadwat says that Trump has repeatedly confirmed this. And the ACLU also says that it's unfortunate that the full ban can move forward now.

KELLY: Fascinating. Thank you, Richard.

GONZALES: Thank you. Take care.

KELLY: That's NPR's Richard Gonzales updating us on news today out of the U.S. Supreme Court. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.