WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court ruled that a ban ordered by Donald Trump on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and two other countries could be immediately imposed while multiple court cases challenging the ban are resolved.
The ultimate disposition of the ban was expected to take months to resolve. But the 7-2 ruling by the high court was a blow to anti-discrimination advocates, who vowed to protest the decision.
The ban means that the United States would categorically refuse entry visas to prospective travelers from the countries of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, plus North Korea and Venezuela.
Under an executive action announced in July, an exception would be made for travelers with “bona fide” links inside the United States such as documented business purposes or close family relationships.
The ruling does not mean that the supreme court has accepted the ban as constitutional, but that it finds persuasive the Trump administration’s argument that an emergency injunction against the ban was unnecessary.
The high court is expected to weigh the ban on its merits – and to rule on whether it violates constitutional protections against discrimination – in the coming months.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the ruling. But notably, justice Elena Kagan, a Barack Obama nominee, sided with the majority.
The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, hailed the ruling as “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”, despite the advice of terrorism scholars who say that security justifications for the ban are misleading.
The progressive Centre for Constitutional Rights decried the supreme court ruling in a statement.
“We will not allow this to become the new normal,” the centre said. “Whatever the courts say, the Muslim Ban is inhumane and discriminatory. We must continue to demonstrate that we reject and will resist the politics of fear, anti-Muslim racism, and white supremacy.”