The US Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by allowing his temporary bans on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and all refugees to go into effect for people with no connection to the United States while agreeing to hear his appeals in the closely watched legal fight.
The Trump administration had issued two versions of Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on travel ban, first on January 27 and then on March 6 but the federal courts expressed their strong reservations against the discriminatory nature of the order saying that they were in bad taste and were targeted against the Muslim community.
The US Supreme Court has accepted the emergency appeal by the Trump administration allowing travel ban on people from six Muslim majority nations for 90 days, i.e., Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Yemen and Somalia and all refugees for 120 days “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” while the federal courts had completely blocked it.
DONALD TRUMP’S NEIL GORSUCH GAMBLE
Nominating judges in the US courts has always been the prerogative of the US President and his party. Trump wanted appellate judge Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, to fill the lone vacancy in the US Supreme Court. And with Gorsuch’s approval in April, after a long and bitterly fought confirmation process, Trump had what he wanted.
“Trump had vowed to choose ideologues in the mould of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon – a prospect that had activists on the right giddy,” a Washington Post report had said. Antonin Scalia, a Ronald Reagan appointee to the US Supreme Court, was seen as a legal luminary but with a conservative mindset who vocally opposed gay rights and abortion.
Scalia’s death last year had given Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama an opportunity to tilt the 5-4 conservative majority in the US Supreme Court in favour of a 5-4 liberal majority but the Senate Republicans didn’t allow Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, a liberal.
TRUMP SEEKS AN EXPEDITED HEARING IN THE SUPREME COURT
After the London Bridge terror attack on June 3 that left seven dead and dozens injured, Trump, while slamming, the re-drafted version of his administration’s travel ban order as an attempt to be “politically correct”, commented that “the US Justice Department should have stayed with the original travel ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to the US Supreme Court and the Justice Department should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down travel ban before the Supreme Court – and seek much tougher version.”
Before that, on June 1, the Trump administration had filed an emergency application in the US Supreme Court requesting temporary revival of the travel ban plan. And for the moment, the US Supreme Court decision seems to have given what Trump had wanted from the US judiciary, a favourable decision for his orders that are challenged.
There has always been this line of thought in the US that Trump wanted to have a conservative majority in the US Supreme Court so that he could push his agenda and one can always raise the question that the US Supreme Court could have expedited the hearing without altering the ban put in place by so many US courts. A US Judiciary with more conservative judges is likely to have a favourable view of Trump administration’s conservative policies like travel ban or stopping funds to the NGOs working for abortion.
A more ‘likeminded and amenable judiciary’ can be a great help, especially when the US under Trump is witnessing a flurry of lawsuits against his decisions that his rivals see as controversial. That is bound to happen as Trump’s victory has bitterly divided America and he took oath with historically low approval ratings amid nationwide protests.
Trump was always more than ready to move to the US Supreme Court on his travel ban plans where he expected a respite there with a 5-4 conservative majority with Neil Gorsuch’s approval. And with this respite, his administration may now work out his plans pushing for a much tougher version of travel ban as he has sought.