This video is sponsored in part by Squarespace Mr.Beat presents Supreme Court Briefs Washington, D.C. March 6, 2017 President Donald Trump issues an executive order that limits travel to the United States by foreign nationals of several different countries and prohibited entry for all refugees who didn’t have the proper documents. Well wait.
Let’s define a couple things here first. A “foreign national” is a person who is currently in a country they are not a citizen of. A “refugee” is a person who has been forced to leave their home country, usually to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster. And yes, refugees can become foreign nationals. Anyway, Trump’s executive order did a bunch of stuff, but one thing definitely stood out. His order banned folks from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Now, while there were exceptions to it, that part of the order was controversial since these were all MAJORITY MUSLIM countries and many remembered that Trump previously had said stuff like this: Critics called Trump’s order “Travel Ban 2.0.”
Wait, this was the second travel ban executive order? Indeed it was. His first travel ban was even more controversial. It also banned folks from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen but was a bit harsher with how it dealt with refugees. Now, calling it a straight up ban was misleading. It didn’t completely ban citizens from these countries. It just made it really hard for them to get in. Still, later Trump himself called them travel bans so I guess we’ll keep calling them that.
Anyway, after Trump first issued the order, it ended up leading to chaos at airports with both protestors and folks trying to go home, along with around 700 travelers being detained. Well, the state of Washington sued Trump, saying the executive order was unconstitutional. In response, Judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order which said the federal government couldn’t enforce much of the executive order around the entire country.
Trump appealed, arguing the executive order was necessary to increase national security, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower court. So yeah, that’s why Trump issued this Travel Ban 2.0, or “Travel Ban Lite,” as I like to call it. It completely replaced the first travel ban. But it still seemed to target…well…ya know…Muslims. This time, the state of Hawaii sued Trump, saying this new executive order was unconstitutional.
On March 15, 2017, Judge Derrick Watson of the District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order which said the federal government couldn’t enforce major parts of the executive order. By considering evidence other than the executive order itself…mostly the words and Tweets of Trump…Judge Watson said the order was probably motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment and went against the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But Trump and his administration argued it wasn’t about Muslims. It was about safety. And fight they did. However, things weren’t looking good for their fight.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to bring back most of the ban and argued the ban mostly went against the Immigration and Nationality Act. Before the Supreme Court could really look at it much, though, the second travel ban had expired. But no worries. Trump had a third travel ban ready to go. On September 24, 2017, he issued his Presidential Proclamation 9645 to replace the second travel ban. This ban was more serious, as it DIDN’T HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE. It also applied to some different countries that the Trump administration said didn’t supply good enough information about their citizens.
So this time it restricted travel of nationals again from Libya, Iran, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, but also nationals from Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea. Wait, who is coming to the United States from North Korea? Anyway, it’s also worth noting that North Korea and Venezuela were not Muslim majority countries. The proclamation also called to improve vetting procedures of foreign nationals, and Trump was confident the Courts would be cool with this one. Yeah definitely not. NOPE.
Here comes Hawaii again. The State of Hawaii once again sued, and the District Court for the District of Hawaii once again said this third ban was unconstitutional and went against the Immigration and Nationality Act. On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit once again agreed with the lower court, so Trump asked the Supreme Court to review the case, and they were like “ok dawg.” The Court heard oral arguments on April 25, 2018. The Court had to consider if the third travel ban actually did go against the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Trump’s lawyers argued “how could it go against Islam when two of the countries had hardly any Muslims at all?” The Court also considered whether or not the President had the actual authority to issue travel bans in that way and also whether or not THE COURTS had the authority to take on this case in the first place. On June 26, 2018, the Court announced it had sided with Trump. It was a close one. 5-4, with all five of the supposedly conservative justices siding with the President. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion, saying that the Immigration and Nationality Act DID give the President authority to suspend the entry of foreign nationals into the country.
The Court also said the travel ban didn’t go against the Establishment Clause. For example, they considered that two of the countries with travel restrictions were indeed non-majority-Muslim countries, man. Not only that, there were LOTS of Muslim-majority countries in the world that Trump placed no travel restrictions on. By addressing the travel ban, the Court perhaps inevitably also brought up an old, very controversial case called Korematsu v. United States, which I have a video about which you can watch here. That case justified the President’s ability to establish internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War Two. Well, with this case, the Court kind of overruled the Korematsu case. And actually, in her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that THIS decision “redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another.”
Regardless, Trump v. Hawaii strengthened the president’s authority over immigration and national security matters. Still, the decision remained controversial, as many folks just saw it as a sneaky way for Trump to prevent Muslims from entering the country. Now, Trump may have won the case, but on January 20, 2021, literally his last day in office, the new President, Joe Biden, issued a new executive order that ended all of Trump’s travel bans. So, uh, for now, this video is pointless, at least until it maybe won’t be one day. I’ll see you for the next Supreme Court case, jury!
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