By a vote of 5–4, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban barring entry to the United States for people from six predominantly Muslim countries.
The ruling in Trump v. Hawaii—one of the most closely watched of the session—overturns a series of lower court decisions which held that the ban—in multiple forms—was unconstitutional, in part thanks to the overt Islamophobia displayed by President Trump.
Writing for the court’s usual conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that, despite Trump’s obvious bigotry, the ban fell well within his authority and was justified on the grounds of national security.
Roberts wrote (emphasis mine):
Plaintiffs argue that this President’s words strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition. But the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself.
As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake noted on Twitter, the ruling goes so far as to allow the president to ban entire nationalities, rather than smaller classes of people.
Writing a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor quickly zeroed in on the president’s Islamophobia as the animating principal behind the ban.
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.
Trump celebrated the ruling in his usual way.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information is made available.
Update, 11:30 AM—The White House has released a full statement in response to the court’s ruling.