U.S. Supreme Court shows some support to Trump's travel ban

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the last case before the U.S. Supreme
Court this session, it seemed the majority of justices might uphold President
Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries.

made during the hourlong oral arguments April 25 in Trump v. Hawaii emphasized national
security reasons for Trump’s action.

The challengers
to the ban — Hawaii, several individuals and a Muslim group — have argued that
Trump’s policy was motivated by his antagonism toward Muslims and it
violates federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the
government favoring one religion over another.

campaign pledges, including one where he called for a “a total and
complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” were raised in
court, but Solicitor General Noel Francisco said these comments should not influence
the justices because they were made before Trump was president.

Francisco stressed
that Trump’s basis for the travel ban was a result of concerns about national
security and not personal beliefs.

matter what standard you apply, this proclamation is constitutional,” he added.

Samuel Alito said the travel ban didn’t look “like a Muslim ban” as some
have labeled it, saying it “only applies to about 8 percent of the world’s

But Justice
Sonia Sotomayor asked: “Where does the president get the
authority to do more than Congress has already decided is adequate” in
national security measures. Francisco’s response, in short, was that the country’s
immigration laws provide the executive branch broad authority to decide who can
enter the country.

Trump has
said the travel ban is necessary to protect the United States from terrorism by
Islamic militants. Its current version is indefinite and applies to travelers
from five countries with predominantly Muslim populations: Iran, Libya,
Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also blocks travelers from non-Muslim countries: North
Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

first travel ban, issued right after he took office, was blocked by several U.S.
courts. A few months later, a second version of the ban was similarly blocked
by several lower courts but the Supreme Court voted last December to allow the
policy to take effect until it heard oral arguments about it.

Church leaders have expressed their objection to the travel ban.

amicus brief filed March 30 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop, Catholic
Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network said the ban singles out
“populations of six overwhelmingly Muslim nations for sweeping immigration
restrictions” that do not exist elsewhere in the world.

The brief
said the president’s order showed “blatant religious discrimination,”
which is “repugnant to the Catholic faith, core American values, and the
United States Constitution.” It also said the Supreme Court should
relegate the order “to the dustbin of history, so it will do no further

The Catholic
groups noted that Trump’s action poses a major threat to religious liberty and also
fails the basic test of religious neutrality. If it stands, they said, it will prevent
countless refugees from escaping persecution and starting a new life in this
country with the help of church resettlement agencies.

during and after the oral arguments, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside
the Supreme Court on the rainy spring morning holding up signs saying: “Refugees
Welcome” and “No Muslim Ban” The fairly small crowd should not
belie the interest in this case, which received friend of the court briefs from Mormon
history and legal scholars, a group of U.S art museums, and Khizr Khan, the Gold
Star father who criticized Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Anticipating the interest in the case, the court announced in mid-April that it
would make the audio of the oral argument available shortly after the court session
was over instead of at the end of the week when audios are normally released.

ruling in this case is expected in late June.

– – –

Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

– – –

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article