Judicial Benchmarks

SCOTUS Upholds Trump's Ban, So What of California's?

A helpful comparison of a ban for the purposes of national security and one for the purposes of discrimination.

Lewis Morris · Jun. 27, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed much of President Donald Trump’s so-called travel ban to go into effect Monday, handing the president a major victory in his effort to strengthen America’s national security.

The unanimous ruling recognized that the president has the power to deny entry to broad categories of visitors and immigrants if he sees a potential national security threat. This ruling lets Trump move forward with his executive order from January to impose a 90-day travel ban from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia, as well as 120-day ban on admitting refugees.

The injunctions filed by the lower courts only remain in place as for people who have a “bone fide relationship” with someone or entity in the U.S. This means that the person seeking entry already has a relative or a documented job or has been granted admittance to a university or training program.

The high court has set a full hearing on the case in October when its next term begins, but that may not even take place. The Trump administration has only to commit to the stated ban and create guidance for implementation, so the whole case might be moot by the time it comes up for full review.

The ruling stayed away from the language that lower courts used in accusing Trump of being prejudiced against Muslims. They had used statements he made on the campaign trail before becoming president to try to paint a picture of him as a racist. The high court, however, did not see these statements as being relevant to the case. The justices are correct.

After all, the language of the order is what matters, as does the relevant statute. In Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress explicitly granted the president the authority to “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens … for such period as he shall deem necessary” when he “finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens … would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Naturally, the anti-Trump crowd is up in arms over the ruling, but what else is new?

Meanwhile, California, which was one of the states that sought to block the travel ban from known terrorist states, seems to have some intimate knowledge of how these bans work, since it has one of its own.

The Golden State has banned state-funded travel to eight states that it deems to be intolerant of “LGBT rights.” The states on California’s intolerance list are Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

According to California’s Democrat Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California taxpayer money “will not be used to let people travel to states who chose to discriminate.”

Given what else California taxpayer money is used for, that’s an interesting ultimatum. In fact, Tennessee lawmakers picked up on California’s “exorbitant taxes, spiraling budget deficits, runaway social welfare programs, and rampant illegal immigration” in its own official rebuttal resolution.

California’s ban only affects travel that takes place in an official capacity to conduct state business. In an age where telecommuting and video conferencing have replaced the need for much of this travel, it’s hard to see the ban having much of an impact. In addition, California seems more in the business of hemorrhaging jobs and chasing companies out of state with high taxes and regulations. Those people, jobs and companies are increasingly headed to, ironically, Texas.

The irony of opposing a travel ban from terrorist countries while imposing one to states California deems insufficiently “tolerant” seems lost on the Left Coast liberals. The various states of the Union don’t have to be in lock-step with their laws or their attitudes. In fact, that’s the whole point of the federalist experiment. It’s not up to one state to hold other states accountable for behavior it finds to be reprehensible.

Of course, if California finds that the rest of the country isn’t living up to its own standards, it could always restart its Calexit plan…

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