A five justice majority of the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the latest iteration of President Donald Trump’s travel ban Tuesday.
The current ban is imposed to varying degrees against nationals from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
The ruling reverses a series of lower court decisions that had struck down the ban as Illegal or unconstitutional. It hands a major victory to Trump, who initiated the battle to ban travelers a week after assuming office last year. It was a defeat for Hawaii and other states that had challenged the action, as well as immigration rights groups.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.
“The president has lawfully exercised the broad discretion granted to him under [federal law],” Roberts wrote.
The Court also rejected the plaintiff’s constitutional argument, which alleged the policy’s true purpose was to disparage Islam, in violation of the First Amendment.
The legal battle began immediately after Trump issued his first travel ban in January 2017. That 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on refugees worldwide, was struck down by federal district and appeals courts the following month.
Trump’s second version, issued in March 2017, dropped Iraq from the list of affected nations and exempted visa- and green card-holders. It fared no better, getting struck down last spring before the Supreme Court ruled a year ago that travelers without close ties to the USA could be barred while vetting procedures were reviewed.
After Trump issued his third version in September — subtracting Sudan, adding Chad, North Korea and government officials of Venezuela, setting separate criteria for each country and making it indefinite rather than temporary — federal courts again struck it down. In December, the justices allowed it to go into effect, and in January, they scheduled it for oral argument.
Hanging in the balance were nearly 150 million residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad, also majority-Muslim, was removed from the list in April. North Korea and Venezuela are not part of the legal battle.
For more information about the ban, click here.
(USA Today, Daily Caller, Department of Homeland Security)