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Supreme Court Reinstates Bulk Of Trump's Travel Ban

| by Robert Fowler
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments for and against President Donald Trump's executive order on travel in the fall. The court issued an unsigned opinion allowing the bulk of the president's second directive on travel to remain in effect, excluding foreign nationals with established ties to the U.S.

On June 26, the court announced that it would allow parts of Trump's executive action on travel to go into effect before it hears oral arguments on the merits. The directive prohibits U.S. entry to foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump released an official statement heralding the court's decision as a win for his administration's agenda.

"Today's unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security," the president said. "It allows the travel suspension of six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective."

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The Supreme Court ruled that the travel ban could resume within a minimum of three days. The court placed several restrictions on the directive, ruling that it would not be enforced "against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

This means that foreign nationals from the six designated countries who are employed by a U.S. business, attend a U.S. university or already have family members in the country are exempted from the travel restrictions.

Immigration advocates noted that this criteria would largely blunt the impact of the executive order because the majority of travelers from the six designated countries already have ties in the U.S.

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"As you can imagine, they're not giving a lot of tourism visas to Yemeni and Somali nationals to begin with," Becca Heller of the International Refugee Assistance Project told Politico.

The exemptions are unlikely to be a reprieve for refugees from the six designated countries because many of them did not have U.S. ties before being displaced.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas dissented from the other justices, arguing that they should have allowed the entirety of Trump's executive order to remain in effect in order to avoid confusion.

"I fear that the court's remedy will prove unworkable," Thomas wrote in a dissenting opinion. "Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding -- on peril of contempt -- whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had previously placed injunctions on Trump's executive order, asserting that the directive amounted to religious discrimination. Both courts cited the president's repeated pledge on the campaign trail to impose a so-called "Muslim ban."

The court did not take any of Trump's campaign statements or social media missives into account in making its decision.

"The 16 pages did not include any citations to President Trump's campaign rhetoric," senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told CNN. "And the Supreme Court seems reluctant to get into the business of that, which is why I always thought the president had the best chance of winning at the Supreme Court."

The court will hear two separate oral arguments related to Trump's executive order in October. The first case will be Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, which will decide how the executive action applies to refugees. The second case will be Trump v. Hawaii, which will address how the directive applies to foreign nationals, according to Bloomberg.  

Sources: BloombergCNN, Politico / Photo credit: Matt Wade

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