Wolfsdorf Immigration Blog
1. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the ban “does not exceed any contextual limit on the President’s authority.” Further, the Court held that Section 1182(f) of the INA exudes deference to the President in every clause. This means the Supreme Court found that a President banning indefinitely (as the Court held the ban is constitutional as long as necessary) all citizens from a particular country is constitutional and within the authority of the executive branch.
2. The decision also held that the ban did not violate the First Amendment by denying freedom of religion to Muslims even though the President stated, “Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The Court held that the only perquisite of Section 1182(f) of the INA is that the “President ‘find’ that the entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.’” As such, the Court was satisfied that the President’s travel ban was based on the finding that denying entry to foreign nationals who could not be vetted with adequate information was in the national interest and that the travel ban is facially neutral toward religion.
In summary, the US Supreme Court held that the executive branch has deference on immigration matters as long as the government produces some type of reasoning that is not discriminatory, even if there is contrary evidence.
Justice Sotomayor articulated the case for overturning the ban in her dissenting, stating:
“The United States of America is a nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created. Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. That alone suffices to show that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens. Because that troubling result runs contrary to the Constitution and our precedent, I dissent.”