Supreme Court upholds Trump’s ban on travel from various Muslim countries


(JTA) — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s executive order mandating a ban on travel from several Muslim majority countries.

The court voted 5-4 to uphold the order in a decision announced Tuesday. The order “is squarely within the scope of Presidential authority,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

A number of Jewish groups, including HIAS, the lead immigration advocacy group in the Jewish community, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, had joined briefs challenging the ban. The Zionist Organization of America filed a brief in support.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined the majority decision. The three Jewish justices — Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — joined Sonia Sotomayor in dissenting.

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The state of Hawaii, which filed the challenge, referred to statements Trump made on the campaign trail and since taking office to show his hostility toward Muslim people. In her dissent, Sotomayor said the court was wrong to ignore Trump’s statements about Muslims.

There have been several iterations of the ban. The executive order announced in September prohibits travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as from Chad and North Korea, and includes some Venezuelan government officials and their families. The ban went into effect in December, even as the appeals moved forward.

During oral arguments in April, Kagan asked if a similar ban on Israelis by an anti-Semitic president would be constitutional. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general who was defending the ban, said it could be legal.

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Virginia declared the travel ban unconstitutional. The decision came a month after the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from a similar decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

“Our hearts are broken by today’s Supreme Court decision on the Muslim Ban,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, in a statement. “Scapegoating people of one religion, restricting their travel, separating families across international borders — the Jewish community has seen this before, and we must raise our voices now.’