Judiciary

SCOTUS Scolds Lower Courts

The justices overruled lower judges' politically motivated block on Trump's travel ban.

Thomas Gallatin · Dec. 5, 2017

In a 7-2 decision Monday, the Supreme Court stayed a block imposed by judges in Hawaii and Maryland against Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from six majority-Muslim countries, as well as North Korea and Venezuela. In its ruling SCOTUS pressed both the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts to expedite their decisions on challenges that have been raised against Trump’s executive order. In the meantime, the travel ban will once again go into effect without restrictions. The ban is one thing; the judicial rebuke is another, which we’ll come back to.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded to SCOTUS’ decision, stating, “[This is] a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people. We are pleased to have defended this order and heartened that a clear majority Supreme Court has allowed the President’s lawful proclamation protecting our country’s national security to go into full effect. The Constitution gives the President the responsibility and power to protect this country from all threats foreign and domestic, and this order remains vital to accomplishing those goals.”

Solicitor General Noel Francisco defended the legality of and need for Trump’s order, saying, “[It is a] comprehensive, worldwide review of the information shared by foreign governments that is used to screen aliens seeking entry to the United States. Based on that review, the Proclamation adopts tailored entry restrictions to address extensive findings that a handful of particular foreign governments have deficient information-sharing and identity-management practices, or other risk factors.”

The specifics of the ban, however, are almost incidental. SCOTUS’ decision is a win for the Rule of Law that also serves as a rebuke against activist judges. The High Court rarely intervenes when appellate courts are still considering cases, but did so here because disdain for a president or his policies is not justification for judges to ignore the law.

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