The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers visiting the U.S. from several countries, most of which have Muslim-majority populations.
The 5-4 decision is the court’s first substantive ruling on a Trump administration policy. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by his four conservative colleagues, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented.
The president reacted to the decision on Twitter shortly after it was released.
“Wow!” he wrote.
He elaborated in a statement released by the White House later Tuesday.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution,” the president said. “In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country. This ruling is a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.”
The Supreme Court ruled that Trump has the power to suspend foreign nationals from entering the U.S. so long as he believes their entry would be detrimental to American interests. Justices rejected an argument from attorneys representing the State of Hawaii and others, claiming that the ban was discriminatory against Muslims.
Roberts noted, however, that with the opinion justices expressed “no view on the soundness of the policy.”
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security hailed Tuesday’s ruling in a statement.
“While we have the most generous immigration system in the world, it has repeatedly been exploited by terrorists and other malicious actors who seek to do us harm,” officials said. “Today’s ruling confirms the legality of (President Donald Trump’s) critically important executive actions, and the Department of Homeland Security will continue to faithfully execute our country’s immigration laws and treat everyone we encounter humanely and with professionalism.”
The ruling comes 17 months after Trump signed the initial version of the ban, which barred travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., sparking protests and causing confusion at airports across the nation.
The current iteration of the ban targets travelers coming to the U.S. from seven nations, five of which have populations that are majority Muslim: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. A sixth majority Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list in April after improving “its identity-management and information sharing practices,” Trump said in a proclamation.
Justices pointed to the removal of Chad as proof of the flexibility of the travel ban and its focus on
The ban has been in place since the Supreme Court declined to block it in December.
Critics have claimed that the ban is discriminatory on religious grounds and unconstitutional, pointing to Trump’s promises during the race for the White House to implement a “Muslim ban.” The president has argued that the ban is essential for insuring the safety of the United States.
Check back for updates to this developing story.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.