US Supreme Court upholds Trump travel ban

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Court rejects challenge that US President Donald Trump’s order discriminated against Muslims or exceeded his authority.

The United States Supreme Court has upheld President Donald Trump’s controversial order blocking entry by people from several Muslim-majority countries, rejecting a challenge that it discriminated against Muslims or exceeded his authority.

In a 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the high court found that Trump’s action was “squarely within the scope of presidential authority” under US immigration law.

The current ban, announced in September and widely criticised by human rights and refugee advocacy groups, prohibits entry into the US by most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also affects two non-Muslim countries: blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by his four conservative colleagues. He rejected the challengers’ claim of anti-Muslim bias, but was careful not to endorse either Trump’s provocative statements about immigration in general and Muslims in particular.

“We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Roberts wrote.

Lower courts had previously blocked the travel ban, the third version of a policy Trump first pursued a week after taking office in January 2017. But on December 4, the high court allowed it to go fully into effect while the legal challenge continued.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a dissent that based on the evidence in the case “a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”

She said her colleagues arrived at the opposite result 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”.

The challengers, led by the state of Hawaii, argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity towards Muslims.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that the challengers had failed to show that the ban violates either US immigration law or the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on the government favouring one religion over another.

The White House maintains the ban targets individuals from countries that have failed to provide enough information to allow for proper vetting of prospective travellers. Trump also says it is needed on matters of national security.

When the first version of the ban was announced shortly after Trump took office, protests erupted nationwide, with many taking to airports and the streets to denounce the move as “unconstitutional”.

Human rights activists said the court’s decision represented “a dreadful day for our country”.Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey reporting from New York said that the court’s ruling is a “major victory” for Trump.

She said that the Trump administration added some countries that were not -Muslim majority to the list arguing that this was for national security abd not based on religion

“With those changes the Supreme Court is basically saying that this is within the president’s authority to do this:”Al Jazeera.

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