In Big Win For White House, Supreme Court Upholds President Trump's Travel Ban


Zainab Chaudry (from left), Zainab Arain and Megan Fair with the Council on American-Islamic Relations stand outside the Supreme Court for a rally against the Trump travel ban before oral arguments.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

In a 5-4 ruling that gave broad leeway to presidential authority, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump's travel ban that barred nearly all travelers from five mainly Muslim countries as well as North Korea and Venezuela.

The president's proclamation was "squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA," the court wrote in its majority opinion, referring to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

"A moment of profound vindication"

"Today's Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution," Trump said in a statement. "The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States. In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country.

History will not look kindly on the court's decision today, nor should it.

"This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country. As long as I am President, I will defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American People, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens. Our country will always be safe, secure and protected on my watch."

In a statement to reporters at the White House, President Trump said, "The ruling shows that all the attacks from the media and the democratic politicians were wrong."

Travel ban 3.0

The court seemed to tip its hand at oral arguments in April, when a majority of the justices appeared ready to side with Trump. The court was ruling on what was the third version of the ban, which Trump has complained is a "watered down" version.

The court allowed it to go into effect while the case was being litigated, but the lower courts had ruled that all three versions either violated federal law or were unconstitutional.

Like the earlier two bans, version 3.0 bars almost all travelers from five mainly Muslim countries — Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia — and added a ban on travelers from North Korea and government officials from Venezuela.

The court acceded broadly to presidential power. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, noted that the INA exudes deference to the president. The executive order, he wrote, was more detailed than similar orders by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

Roberts then deferred to the president's power. The only thing a president has to signal is that entry for people from various countries would be detrimental to the interest of the United States. The president undoubtedly fulfilled that requirement here, the court noted.

The president, Roberts said, has extraordinary power to express his opinions to the country, as well. The plaintiffs argued that Trump's past campaign and other statements about Muslims should be taken into account, but the majority said it is not the court's role to do that.

The chief justice did not dispute Trump's consistently anti-Muslim statements.

"The issue, however, is not whether to denounce the President's statements," Roberts said, "but 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, the Court must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself."

The upshot of the court's precedents is clear, he said. The court should not inhibit the president's flexibility in responding to changing world conditions, and any court inquiry into matters of into national security is highly constrained. As long as the president presents an explanation for the travel ban that is "plausibly related" to a legitimate national security objective, Roberts said, he is on firm constitutional ground.

Lipstick on a pig

Among national security experts across the political spectrum, the decision elicited distinct disappointment. John Bellinger, who served in a variety of national security positions in the George W. Bush administration after Sept. 11, called Tuesday's decision "unfortunate," but not surprising.

"It's still a pig," he said of the travel ban's current iteration, "but the administration has put just enough lipstick on it for it to look pretty for five of the nine justices."

And University of Chicago constitutional law scholar Aziz Huq said that because there was evidence in this case of a presidential bias against a single religious group, Tuesday's decision is different from court precedent.

"This is one of the very few instances in which there, in fact, was available evidence of bias," he said. "The decision today is one of the first in which it was open and notorious that the policy was launched on the basis of bias."

Because of that, he called the court's decision to uphold Trump's policy "a real shift in the law."

Impassioned dissent

The court's four liberal justices dissented in two separate opinions, with both Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor delivering rare oral dissents from the bench.

Speaking with unusual passion, Sotomayor blasted the court's reasoning.

"The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty," she opened in her dissent. "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."

What's more, Sotomayor said, the court's decision "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."

Comparing Tuesday's outcome with the court's decision, in 1944, to uphold the legality of Japanese-American internment camps, Sotomayor noted, "In holding that the First Amendment gives way to an executive policy that a reasonable observer would view as motivated by animus against Muslims, the majority opinion upends this Court's precedent, repeats tragic mistakes of the past, and denies countless individuals the fundamental right of religious liberty."

She added that plaintiffs did have a case related to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and blasted the majority for believing otherwise.

"The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens," Sotomayor added.

And while the court has a duty to be deferential to the president, she said, "Deference is different from unquestioning acceptance. Thus, what is 'far more problematic' in this case is the majority's apparent willingness to throw the Establishment Clause out the window and forgo any meaningful constitutional review at the mere mention of a national-security concern."

She then read a selection of anti-Muslim statements made by the president, admonishing the audience to "take a brief moment to let that sink in."

After reading her decision from the bench, she added, "History will not look kindly on the court's decision today — nor should it."

Reactions from both sides

Outside reaction to the ruling was swift.

David Cole, national legal director of the ACLU, called the decision "One of the court's historic failures to live up to its obligation to defend the rights of the most vulnerable from those that are the most powerful."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the decision in a statement, saying, "The court failed today, and so the public is needed more than ever" to challenge officials who do not move to rescind the ban.

Pelosi added that the ban will actually backfire and serve as a "recruiting tool" for terrorists and invoked other recent controversial foreign policy moves by Trump.

"The President's disdain for our values and the safety of the American people has led him to undermine relationships with critical allies, embrace autocrats and dictators, launch damaging trade wars and sow fear in our communities with his hateful, ugly language," she said. "Whether tearing children from their parents at the border or advancing a ban founded on open bigotry, President Trump is making our nation less safe at home and less respected abroad."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions disagreed. "Today is a great victory for the safety and security of all Americans," he said in a statement. "Today's decision is critical to ensuring the continued authority of President Trump — and all future presidents — to protect the American people. We will continue to take and defend all lawful steps necessary to protect this great nation."

An anxious world

There are some puzzling aspects of the court's opinions. Most notably, Justice Anthony Kennedy filed one-and-a-half page concurring opinion. While Kennedy was the decisive fifth vote in Roberts's majority opinion, he wrote separately that there are numerous government actions that the judiciary cannot correct, but, in his view that does not mean that officials are free to disregard the Constitution and the rights it protects - including freedom of belief and expression. "An anxious world," he wrote, "must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts."

The message of this concurrence remains unclear. Is it a warning to the Trump administration not to go too far? Or a Hamlet-like lament?

NPR's Annie Hollister contributed to this report.

Kathleen Belew (Bring the War Home) posits, "White power activists codified their ideas about gender in the middle of a nationally charged debate about the place of women in American society.  The women's movements of the 1960s and 1970s had put forward radical claims for equality in the home and workplace, reproductive rights, and freedom from sexual violence.  The equal rights Amendment (ERA), passed by Congress in 1972, failed to receive ratification by the states in no small part because of its purported threat of drafting women into military service and emasculating [White] men, and by the early 1980s, its ratification seemed increasingly unlikely in the face of an ascendant conservative movement.  The 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision had legalized abortion but had also inflamed a debate about that issue that would prove enormously generative for social conservatives and a rising tide of evangelical voters."

Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering

Jun 22, 2018

Suffering is part of the human condition, but hardship isn’t distributed equally. For centuries humans have tried to make sense of suffering, personal suffering, and the pain of others.

In his latest book, Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering, philosophy professor Scott Samuelson brings together the ideas of some of the world’s greatest philosophers, as well as his own thoughts and lessons he has learned from his students at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Samuelson shares with Charity Nebbe why he thinks the questions we ask about suffering are important, and how it is often the things that bring us the most pain that also fill our lives with the most meaning. They discuss the ideas of John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, and others. Samuelson reflects on what he learned from the students in a philosophy class he taught at an Iowa prison and shares his concerns about what he sees as an unwillingness to engage with suffering in our culture today.

“I think we’re in danger right now in society," says Samuelson. "We view boredom as suffering and we turn to our electronic devices. If you can get past a little bit of boredom, you can get into what makes life sing.”

MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner. In 1939, she set off on a voyage in which her captain, Gustav Schröder, tried to find homes for over 900 Jewish refugees from Germany. Due to countries' immigration policies based on domestic political realities, rather than humanitarian grounds, they were denied entry to Cuba, the United States, and Canada. The refugees were finally accepted in various European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, and France. Historians have estimated that approximately a quarter of them died in death camps during World War II.[2] The event was the subject of a 1974 book, Voyage of the Damned, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. It was adapted for a 1976 U.S. film of the same title and a 1994 opera titled St. Louis Blues by Chiel Meijering.

Rep. Steve King
Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa has become notorious for making thinly veiled racist pronouncements about the threats of immigration. “We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies,” he lamented on Twitter in March last year.

But King’s own grandmother Freda Harm was one of those very babies, arriving in steerage at Ellis Island in 1894 from Germany at the age of four, according to passenger documents, with her parents and two little siblings in tow. The difference, of course, is that white European babies are likely not the kinds of “somebody else” King was referring to.

U.S. Ban On Travelers From Several Countries Upheld By High Court


David Greene talks to former Trump administration national security official Michael Anton, who says the ban will make the country safer. NPR's Mara Liasson weighs in on the conversation.

Surveying The Country With Our Citizen Roundtable

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Airport High School in West Columbia, S.C., Monday, June 25, 2018. Trump is campaigning for Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, returning the favor after McMaster provided Trump with an early endorsement in his presidential campaign. (Susan Walsh/AP)

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Airport High School in West Columbia, S.C., Monday, June 25, 2018. Trump is campaigning for Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, returning the favor after McMaster provided Trump with an early endorsement in his presidential campaign. (Susan Walsh/AP)

With John Harwood

So, how’s the country doing, really? We’ll check in with a roundtable of voters from around the country.


Michael Warren, senior writer for The Weekly Standard. (@MichaelRWarren)

Carl HillOn Point listener from Nashville, Tennessee.

Yvonne Raczkowski, realtor in Joplin, Missouri. (@yraz)

Alex Leithcivil engineer in Denver, Colorado.

From The Reading List:

The Weekly Standard: "What Trump Doesn't Understand about South Carolina and BMW" — "Driving on Interstate 85 between Atlanta and Charlotte through the northern third of South Carolina, aka the 'Upstate,' you’ll definitely see that giant peach-shaped water tower in Gaffney that looks like, er, something else. But after you’re done laughing (or cringing) at this symbol of the state’s domestic agriculture industry, you won’t be able to miss the displays of globalization. Not crumbling shells of industrial towns but big signs with international corporations who have expanded operations to the Palmetto State and made the region a thriving hub of economic activity.

There’s Michelin, the French tire manufacturer with its North American headquarters outside of Greenville. South Carolinians make tires for cars, buses, trucks, and construction equipment in seven different plants in the state. The first manufacturing plant for South Korean giant Samsung opened last year less than an hour south of Greenville, where workers make washing machines. The crown jewel of the 85 corridor is the BMW factory in Greer, which is the German automaker’s most productive assembly plant in the world, and the only one in the United States. Every BMW crossover SUV is made in South Carolina.

So it was a little jarring to hear President Donald Trump, making an appearance Monday night in the state capital of Columbia on behalf of Republican governor Henry McMaster’s reelection bid, chastise the good people of Bayerische Motoren Werke for sending their cars to the United States. Not surprising, though, since Trump’s administration has threatened the European Union with 20 percent tariffs on automobile imports, causing the stocks of German car companies (including BMW) to plummet."

If you judge the state of America by the noise in Washington, or the screaming on cable news shows, or the frenzy on Twitter, your verdict may be pretty bleak. But how does American in the summer of 2018 feel to a small business owner in Nashville, an engineer in Denver, or a realtor in Joplin, Missouri? We’ll find out in our citizen’s roundtable, with help from a leading journalist.

This hour, On Point: A late June temperature check for our country.

- John Harwood

This program aired on June 27, 2018.

Members of President Donald Trump's White House team are pictured. | Getty Images



How Would Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Have Affected His Own Team?

I traced their family histories. Their ancestors wouldn’t have been welcome.

January 18, 2018

The Friday Cover

An illustration of young Trump aides. | Illustration by John Jay Cabuay
After President Donald Trump called it a “total disaster, which threatens our security and our economy and provides a gateway for terrorism” at a White House meeting in early January, “chain migration” quickly became the buzzword du jour for anti-immigration voices. But chain migration, a process also known as “family reunification” that allows a legal immigrant to bring his family members to the United States—spouses and minor children when he has a green card, and parents and siblings after he becomes a citizen—is nothing new. In fact, it’s how the families of some of the most prominent anti-immigration voices in Trump’s circle—and the president himself—came to the United States.

These ahistorical warnings about the evils of chain migration are part of a longstanding American tradition described by immigration historian Tyler Anbinder in a 2016 Chicago Sun-Times editorial: “From the days of the Puritans to the present, every generation of Americans has believed that the latest wave of immigrants is completely different from—and inferior to—their own immigrant ancestors and could never become true Americans.” From White House adviser Stephen Miller to Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren, many prominent anti-immigration voices advocate for immigration policies like merit-based systems and language-based preferences that would have barred their own families from coming to the United States.

But while our favorite immigration opponents may have forgotten their immigrant roots, lucky for them, I have an account, and I know how to use it. In a project I call #resistancegenealogy, I’ve traced their family trees and found, not surprisingly, their own family’s stories are markedly similar to those of the immigrants they now would like to prevent from becoming Americans. (Except, of course, that today’s immigrants are less commonly white Europeans.) Here are some of the highlights.

Dan Scavino, Jr.

Let’s start with Dan Scavino, Jr., White House social media director, who tweeted an article about chain migration “choking” the United States. That’s the kind of charge that may have once been leveled against Italian immigrants like Scavino’s great-grandfather.

Scavino’s roots trace back to the Italian Piedmont town of Canelli, where his great-grandfather Davide “Gildo” Ermenegildo was born in August of 1884 to Giuseppe Scavino and his wife Carolina Giovine. The birth certificate is below, with Gildo on the right side.

Gildo Scavino was part of a classic chain of immigrants that began with his older brother Vittorio (or Victor, as he would come to be known) who arrived at Ellis Island in 1904 with his wife Camilla. The records indicate that Vittorio had come on a business trip, but he apparently stayed on, because the following March, when brother Ettore (who would become Hector) arrived from Canelli, he listed brother Vittorio, at an address on E. 59th Street in New York City, as his point of contact. He also indicates that his brother paid for his passage.


The 1905 New York state census indicates that the two brothers were living together. Newly arrived Ettore, with no occupation listed, is said to be “at home,” Victor a day laborer and his wife Camilla a dressmaker.


Are these the sorts of immigrants who would meet the proposed “skills and merit” criteria that Trump would like to replace the family-based system with? Victor and Hector went on work in a candy factory, although Victor’s 1918 declaration of intention for citizenship, which immigrants were able to file after having resided in the United States for at least two years, identifies him as a “laundry washer.”


In September of 1913, Dan Scavino’s great-grandfather Gildo arrives, accompanied by brother Victor, who is re-entering the U.S. after some years spent in Paris. Two months later, their younger sister Esther, a dressmaker, arrives from Canelli and is “discharged” to her older brothers, as written below.


By 1915, the census shows that Esther and her brother Gildo were sharing an apartment on 127th Street.


Finally, in 1916, the youngest Scavino sister Clotilde, her baby son Mario and the Scavinos’ widowed father, 68-year-old Giuseppe, arrive, leaving behind at least one sister in Italy. These newcomers list last-arrived sister Esther as their point of contact. (You see how this works now? It’s like a … chain.)

This group was detained at Ellis Island as “likely public charges,” meaning there was concern they would not be able to support themselves, which probably had something to do with the fact that Giuseppe was issued a medical certificate at Ellis Island for “senile debility,” which you can see noted below. After two days of waiting and a hearing, the Scavinos were cleared for entry to the United States on December 18. Giuseppe died just three months later. (They fared better, incidentally, than shipmate Domenica Fazio, a suspected prostitute who was detained alongside them and deported back to Italy.)


Gildo Scavino, Dan, Jr.’s great-grandfather, went on to marry Carmella Daglia, also an Italian immigrant, in 1918, and their son Aldo was born in New York in 1920, paving the way for his grandson to one day work in the White House and use his platform to call for an end to so-called chain migration.

Rep. Steve King
Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa has become notorious for making thinly veiled racist pronouncements about the threats of immigration. “We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies,” he lamented on Twitter in March last year.

But King’s own grandmother Freda Harm was one of those very babies, arriving in steerage at Ellis Island in 1894 from Germany at the age of four, according to passenger documents, with her parents and two little siblings in tow. The difference, of course, is that white European babies are likely not the kinds of “somebody else” King was referring to.


White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller
Miller, an immigration hardliner who has helped craft Trump’s wish list on more restrictive policies, once warned in a college op-ed that “worshipping at the altar of multiculturalism” might lead to the “sacrifice of the one culture which binds us all.” But Miller’s own Jewish family arrived from Eastern Europe with very little and spun their hard work into success, opening up businesses in Pennsylvania—the classic immigration success story.

In a White House briefing in August, Miller made clear that White House immigration policy would prioritize those immigrants who could already speak English. But by those rules, Miller’s own great-grandmother would not have passed muster. In the 1910 census, she is clearly identified as speaking only Yiddish, four years after arriving.


Tomi Lahren
Fox News’ Tomi Lahren has been especially unforgiving in her immigration stance, even going so far as to defend President Trump’s “shithole countries” comment.

But her tree yielded perhaps the most hilarious vignette yet: Lahren’s Russian immigrant great-great-grandfather, Constantin Dietrich, was indicted by a federal grand jury in North Dakota in 1917 for forging his naturalization papers. Such prosecutions were exceedingly rare; there were typically less than 100 annually out of about 105,000 naturalizations. But luckily for Lahren, the trial jury was apparently unmoved by the findings of the grand jury and acquitted him, making it possible for her to be here sharing her anti-immigration screeds on Twitter in 2018.


Tucker Carlson
“Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here?” Fox News personality Tucker Carlson asked on Twitter last year.

Well, though Carlson was apparently estranged from his biological mother, sketching out her tree led to the memoirs of Carlson’s great-great grandfather Cesar Lombardi, who wrote about how the “narrowness of opportunities” in Switzerland created a “violent desire” for him to “seek my fortune in foreign parts.” He landed in New York on November 1, 1860.


The good news is that while we’ve been hearing about the evils of immigration for centuries, the country appears to have continually weathered the storm. I suspect we’re going to be just fine moving forward.

After all, some of those immigrants’ descendants have even ended up in the White House.

Jennifer Mendelsohn is a freelance writer based in Baltimore. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and Slate, among many others. She serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland. She can be found on Twitter here.

Views: 93

Comment by mary gravitt on June 27, 2018 at 12:37pm

America is on the brink of losing what little democracy we have left.  Trump, president of 40% of White Americans, is keeping his promise to destroy the Republic.  Trump promised his base to "make American White again," without cautioning them that Europe was White until 1492 and then "discovered" that the lands containing peoples of color were rich, while White Europe was poor and at war constantly.  Peace only came to Europe after the destruction of WWII.  Now Trump wants to take America back to a mythical time where Whites rule from sea to shining sea, while the rest of US sit back and voluntarily enter Concentration Camps. 

Those who do not know their history are bound to repeat it.

Comment by mary gravitt on June 27, 2018 at 12:57pm


Comment by koshersalaami on June 27, 2018 at 3:15pm

Ocasio-Cortez’ election in the New York primary says that we may finally be at the point where money cannot reliably determine election results. That is a critical development. 

Comment by mary gravitt on June 28, 2018 at 2:03pm

The point of studying history is so that we may be comforted by the fact that we have lived through all these events before and survived.  Trump is patterning himself on Mussolini and Hitler, strong men his father probably schooled him on.  A Bully, Trump wants to appear a strong-man.  This is why he prances, puffed up his chest and turns down the corner of his mouth like his heroes.  We all need to study post-WWII history as well as Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.  This is why I include these Archive footage to display that the Fascism that drove the Nazis and the Fascists is still alive and living in "the Swamp" that Trump has reinforced in Washington D.C.  Now is no time to get discouraged.  Now is the time to be wise.


Comment by mary gravitt on June 28, 2018 at 2:04pm

Ocasio-Cortez proves the "Cross of Gold" cannot hinder peoples who are determined to take back their lives from the corporations.  Power to the people is still an apt expression.

Comment by moki ikom on June 28, 2018 at 11:37pm

mari gravatii, it is fateful consequent persistent callings, economically/existentially -as many indeed most, virtually but not quite all  human eathlings endure to the end- predominantly holiUSt$ of unholies [aka wholecloth lies] unjustly therefore by definition jUStly -aka jUStlie-  which rule the eye(s) ii believe that lead moii into your bottomless swamp exposes unfortunately w/o enough infinitismo aka time to indulge my perhaps inbred hatred for "The American Way" aka start with genocide, live high on ecocide, militarize everything, support isrealHell in Palestine, build walls to keep out refugees from civilizations our terrorUSt$ destroyed and call this monstro$USlie Democracy (democrUSy), Make America Great Again, #maga. 


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