WASHINGTON, U.S. - In what came as another victory for U.S. President Donald Trump, the country’s Supreme Court on Monday allowed his latest travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into full effect.
While legal challenges against the travel ban continue in lower courts, the nine-member court, with two liberal justices dissenting, granted his administration’s request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban.
The contentious policy that Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January is currently in its third version.
With the latest decision, now the ban can go fully into effect for people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States.
Trump has argued that the travel ban is needed to protect the U.S. from terrorism by Islamic militants.
Since being imposed, the ban was challenged in separate lawsuits by the state of Hawaii and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Both the challengers have argued that the latest ban, like the earlier ones, discriminates against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
They further argue that the ban is not permissible under immigration laws.
However, even as a candidate, Trump had vowed to impose “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Last week, Trump took to Twitter and shared anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British party leader, causing cross-borderer controversy and threatening a dispute with a long-time ally U.K.
ACLU lawyer Omar Jadwat said, “President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret - he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter. It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones.”
In the previous lawsuits, lower courts had limited the scope of the ban to people without either certain family connections to the United States or formal relationships with U.S.-based entities such as universities and resettlement agencies.
The lower courts have previously allowed provisions covering people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela to go into effect.
Now, the high court said in two similar one-page orders that lower court rulings that partly blocked the latest ban should be put on hold while appeals courts in San Francisco and Richmond, Virginia weigh the cases.
This week, both the courts are due to hear arguments in those cases.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the ban will remain in effect regardless of what the appeals courts rule, at least until the justices ultimately decide whether to take up the issue on the merits.
The court’s order further said the appeals courts should decide the cases “with appropriate dispatch.”
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin said, “We agree a speedy resolution is needed for the sake of our universities, our businesses and most of all, for people marginalized by this unlawful order.”
However, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the administration’s request.
Trump issued his first travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries in January soon after assuming power.
He then issued a revised one in March after the first was blocked by federal courts.
However, in September, the second one expired after a long court fight and was replaced with the present version.