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Trump travel ban can take effect in most cases, Supreme Court rules

The sun flares in the camera lens as it rises behind the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington on Sunday. The court announced their decision Monday on whether the Trump administration can enforce its travel ban.
The sun flares in the camera lens as it rises behind the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington on Sunday. The court announced their decision Monday on whether the Trump administration can enforce its travel ban. AP

President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban can take effect in part, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday, and the Court will hear oral arguments on the executive order in October.

The Court agreed to hear the appeal on the travel ban after two federal courts recently ruled it was unconstitutional. The government can now enforce the travel ban “with regard to people who don’t have a relationship to the United States, but not with regard to the named challengers or people like them – for example, who have relatives who want to come,” according to SCOTUSblog.

“Denying entry to such a foreign national does not burden any American party by reason of that party’s relationship with the foreign national. And the courts below did not conclude that exclusion in such circumstances would impose any legally relevant hardship on the foreign national himself,” the Court wrote. “So whatever burdens may result from enforcement of (the ban) against a foreign national who lacks any connection to this country, they are, at a minimum, a good deal less concrete than the hardships identified by the courts below.”

Executive orders are as old as George Washington. Every president except William Henry Harrison has issued them, and some—like President Donald Trump's recent executive order on immigration—are controversial. They directly affect how the governmen

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts. He said in a statement Monday that the Court’s decision was a “clear victory for our national security.”

“As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive,” Trump said. “My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe. Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland. I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0.”

The travel ban, signed by Trump on March 6, imposed a 90-day pause in travel from citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It is a second, watered-down version of the original travel ban signed by Trump, no longer including Iraq on the list of blocked countries. It also scrapped a loophole for “persecuted religious minorities,” which critics argued was proof that the Trump administration was giving Christians preferential treatment while barring Muslims.

Given the ban has a 90-day limit and could expire before oral arguments occur, it’s possible the case will be moot before it goes before the Court for a permanent decision.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, ruled 10-3 in May that the order amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination. The Trump administration has denied that the ban is being used to target Muslims, but Trump said while campaigning for president that the country needed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, ruled unanimously in June that the order does not comply with federal immigration law, and Trump “exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress.”

Both courts mentioned burdens on U.S. citizens imposed by the travel ban, with one case involving the restricted travel of family members of U.S. citizens and another involving students who had been admitted to U.S. universities. The Supreme Court said that reasoning was legitimate, which is why it provided exceptions for those with a “bona fide” relationship with the U.S. in its lifting of the block imposed by those courts.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a decision concurring and dissenting in part with the majority, saying he thought the travel ban should be permitted to continue in full, with no exceptions. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined in that opinion. The majority opinion does not list an author or the justices that agreed with it, but the in-part dissent by Thomas was the only one listed on the order.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.