Agrees with IRLI that White House travel order is constitutional
WASHINGTON — Today, in a huge victory for the American people, the United States Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel order suspending entry into the United States by nationals of several countries that, Trump believed, failed adequately to vet their citizens for ties to terrorism. In so ruling, the Court tracked the reasoning of a friend-of-the-court brief that the Immigration Reform Law Institute had filed in the case.
Lower courts had struck down the President’s order for exceeding his power under immigration law, and also – because most of the countries were majority-Muslim – for violating the Constitution’s ban on discrimination based on religion.
Today, in Trump v. Hawaii, the Court resoundingly rejected both contentions. Noting the provision of law in which Congress has vested extremely broad power in the President to exclude classes of aliens, or even all aliens, if he deems doing so in the national interest, the Court found that no other part of immigration law restricted Trump’s authority to issue the order.
In its opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court also made short work of the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims. Assuming – but pointedly not deciding – that the President had to articulate some rational basis for his order, the Court held that the President’s concerns about these countries’ inability to vet their nationals for terrorist ties was such a basis. Here the Court echoed the position that IRLI had taken in its briefs in this case and related cases: the President’s order was subject, at most, to rational basis review under the Constitution.
“This opinion restores the true Constitution, and preserves the President’s power to exclude any class of aliens whose entry he deems not in the national interest,” said Christopher Hajec, director of litigation of IRLI. “At most, a future Court might require a rational basis for an exclusion – but it is remarkable that the Court today carefully avoided imposing even that minimal requirement.”
“The American people have the sovereign power to exclude aliens for any reason or no reason, and this power is exercised through their elected representatives – Congress and the President,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “In a major victory for the American people, the Court stayed true to that principle today. The lower court rulings in these cases would have allowed foreign groups to force themselves into the United States through lawsuits,” Wilcox added. “Because the Court today rebuked any such project, our national sovereignty – our ability to decide for ourselves who may come here – remains intact.”
The case is Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965 (Supreme Court).
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