By Michael Hill
The governor and former U.S. attorney weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court lifting part of the block on the Trump administration’s travel ban of folks from six mostly Muslim countries.
“I couldn’t give you a full opinion, but my instinct is given what I know about the president’s constitutional authority on immigration issues is that the Supreme Court probably landed in the right place,” said Gov. Chris Christie.
The high court said it would consider the merits of the case in the fall, but for now it would allow the administration to deny entry if travelers from those countries don’t have a “bonafide” reason or relationship with American residents, organizations or schools.
“That’s not an entirely silly way to do it. For one thing, people who never been in the United States and have no connection with anybody in the United States might not have any constitutional rights to begin with. Now, I think under the establishment clause they would,” said Rutgers University Law Professor Perry Dane.
The court ruled the government’s interest in enforcing the ban, and the executive’s authority to do so, are undoubtedly at their peak when there is no tie between the foreign national and the United States.
The president claimed partial victory in a tweet: “Great day for America’s future Security and Safety, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court. I will keep fighting for the American people, & win!”
Dane said the court’s action was intriguing.
“It seems that they really wanted to quite intentionally avoid talking about the merits, and they scheduled that argument for October, by which time this thing might well be moot,” he said. “Because after all, if you remember, the original ban was supposed to be for 90 days so that the administration could allegedly come up with better procedures for vetting these folks.”
Federal appeals courts from coast to coast had temporarily blocked the administration from imposing two executive orders targeting those countries. Orders the courts insisted violated the Constitution’s establishment clause because the ban showed hostility toward a specific religion, but orders the administration insisted were necessary to make the country safe from terrorism. The rulings even made some opponents of the ban uncomfortable.
“And even with people who are very sympathetic to the argument, as I am frankly, that the ban is unconstitutional, that it violates this establishment clause, that it shows religious animus even among those sorts of people, there were some hesitation about how sweeping those original injunctions were. The Supreme Court cut back on them a bit, sort of nipped at the corners,” said Dane.
The Department of State says it will put the ban in action starting Thursday morning while the government tries to figure out what “bonafide” means in travel cases since it’s not spelled out in immigration law or the high court’s ruling.