Breaking: SCOTUS Upholds Trump’s Travel Ban

In a rare victory for constitutionalism and common sense, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld President Trump’s so-called “travel ban” on those coming from five majority-Muslim countries and two non-Muslim nations, Venezuela and North Korea.

Congress has given the President broad powers over immigration, and the Supreme Court upheld those powers, without endorsing the soundness of the policy.

The legal challenge to the ban was on the grounds that it was motivated by an anti-Muslim bias.  Whether such a bias was a motivating factor or not is inconsequential; the US President has the authority to ban travel by foreign nationals to the United States on any grounds, for any reason.  Any distaste for a president’s immigration policy should be demonstrated at the ballot box, not in the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, too, trying to read the mind of the president—especially if it’s President Trump—is a thorny proposition.  While candidate Trump made several (accurate) remarks about the dangerous nature of radical Islam as part of a justification for a proposed ban on travel by all Muslims—an idea that is probably unworkable in practice—that’s not enough evidence to support an anti-Muslim animus.

Further, what counts as an “anti-Muslim animus”?  If I criticize Pakistani-run child “grooming” gangs in Great Britain, is that an indicator?  If I speak out against genital mutilation in Muslim Somalia, does that qualify?  There’s a difference between speaking hard truths (for example, a substantial number of Muslims think terrorism is justified, even if they themselves wouldn’t commit an act of terror) about a group and hating it.

The legal challenges to the travel ban boiled down to feel-good emotionalism—“you can’t say anything bad about a minority group or your policy is invalid!”—not an actual constitutional argument against it.  The policy may or may not be sound—I think it makes perfect sense, but others are free to disagree—but that’s for the voters to decide, not a small group of legal agitators hoping for a win in the Supreme Court.

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