Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect After Supreme Court Ruling
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The U.S. Supreme Court has given President Trump a rare victory. This decision came down yesterday, and it will temporarily allow Trump's travel ban to take effect while legal challenges in lower courts are heard. This is the third version of President Trump's travel ban. Two previous iterations were partially blocked by courts and eventually scrapped and replaced. Now federal appeals courts on both coasts are set to hear oral arguments from the latest ban's opponents, who say that this discriminates against Muslims.
Here to walk us through all this is NPR's Joel Rose. Good morning, Joel.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.
MARTIN: So as noted, we have seen several versions of the travel ban. Just remind us who is affected by this one.
ROSE: Right. So this places limits on travelers - sorry - on residents of eight countries. Six of them are majority-Muslim nations - Syria, Somalia, Chad, Iran, Libya and Yemen. The ban also covers North Korea and Venezuela. It's not a blanket ban on everyone from all of those countries. There are some exceptions - like students from Iran are exempted, for example. And in Venezuela, it only covers government officials and their families. But bottom line - it will be nearly impossible for most people for most of the countries on that list to visit or to immigrate.
MARTIN: And this is the latest version of the travel ban. So how does this differ from earlier iterations?
ROSE: Right. The government replaced the earlier versions of the travel ban with this version back in September. This time, the administration said there was an extensive review of how countries all over the world comply with U.S. security vetting requirements for visitors. And the administration found (clearing throat) - excuse me - that these eight countries just don't do enough screening and don't provide enough information to the U.S.
That's a very different process from what happened with the first travel ban, remember. I mean, that was written quickly. It was rolled out quickly - just a week after the president took office.
ROSE: And it led to chaos at airports until it was blocked.
The latest version also targets a slightly different list of countries, and that seems to address the concern that only Muslim countries were targeted in the earlier versions of the bans. But critics say this is still a Muslim ban, which is something that President Trump talked about during the campaign. And that concern about discrimination against Muslims was a big reason. It was cited by lower court judges when they blocked the earlier versions and when they partially blocked this version, too.
MARTIN: All right - but seemingly, now the court has swept that concern aside, says that this version can take effect - at least for the time being. Did the court give any explanation as to why?
ROSE: No. These are unsigned orders. They're really short, barely three paragraphs. And they don't really tell us much about the thinking here. I mean, we know this was not unanimous. We know that there were two justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who would have left the lower court injunctions in place - who would have left the limits on this travel ban in place.
We don't know exactly why the justices did this, and so you don't want to read too much into these short orders. But legal scholars I talked to think these orders signal that the administration is likely to ultimately prevail at the high court, you know, if and when this case gets back there.
MARTIN: Yeah. So what's the reaction from the people who have been challenging this from the beginning?
ROSE: Certainly, they're disappointed, I mean, to get these orders after almost a whole year of legal challenges. But they sound undeterred. I mean, I talked to Omar Jadwat with the ACLU, who's been fighting the travel ban since January. This is what he had to say.
OMAR JADWAT: It's disappointing, but it's not the end of the story. We will be in court saying that the ban should ultimately be struck down.
ROSE: And as Jadwat points out, the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits - right? - in these orders, just said that the travel ban can take full effect while the legal challenges continue.
MARTIN: Has the White House weighed in on this? I mean, clearly, this is very good news for them.
ROSE: Yep. The administration seems pleased. A White House spokesman said they're not surprised that the Supreme Court did this because they've argued, you know, all along that this travel ban and its predecessors were legal and necessary to protect national security. But they must be encouraged that the court seems inclined to give the administration a little bit more deference this time around.
MARTIN: Meanwhile, President Trump continues to give his critics new ammunition on Twitter. How might that affect the case?
ROSE: Right. Well, last week, Trump retweeted these inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos from a far-right party in in Britain. And lower court judges have cited his tweets previously in their rulings blocking or partially blocking the travel ban. They've written that the tweets reveal a religious bias and hint at the administration's true intentions.
And legal experts think that this latest tweet could undermine the new - this third version of the travel ban in much the same way, that they're likely to come up in oral arguments this week. There are two hearings, one in Seattle tomorrow and one in Richmond, Va., on Friday. The Supreme Court did urge those appeals courts to resolve this quickly. So you know, we'll see what that means.
MARTIN: NPR's Joel Rose. Thanks, Joel.
ROSE: You're welcome.
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