WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday to allow President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority nations to enter fully into effect.
In a brief ruling that appears to hand a significant victory for the Trump administration, the high court approved a motion by the US government to eliminate the restrictions imposed by lower courts on the latest version of the Sept. 24 travel ban on citizens from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
At the time of its entry into force, on Oct. 18, two judges – first, one in Hawaii, and later another in Maryland – blocked the implementation of the ban, ruling that it could unfairly be targeting a religious minority and, thus, violating the Constitution’s First Amendment, which protects freedom of religion.
However, those judges allowed the ban to go into effect for citizens from North Korea and Venezuela, countries where very few Muslims live and where, as a result, it could not be proved that Trump was intending to discriminate against members of that religion, the argument used in the case of the other six nations.
The restrictions related to Venezuela do not apply to the entire population there, but rather only to top government officials and their “immediate” families.
The Supreme Court did not announce the reasoning guiding the nine justices in reaching their decision, but it did say that it expects lower courts to review as soon as possible the legal challenges to the ban that they have pending to be able to have a definitive decision on the federal level.
Progressive Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said that they were in partial disagreement with the high court’s overall ruling.
This week, hearings are scheduled in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, and in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to study the legality of the immigration ban.
Since he came into office on Jan. 20, Trump has tried on three occasions to implement an immigration ban, the first version of which was proclaimed on Jan. 27.
After huge chaos resulted at airports and numerous judicial reversals, Trump in March issued the second version of his ban on refugees and citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, but it was replaced by this third ban, proclaimed in September and which now can enter fully into force.