Shortly after Trump became president he issued Executive Order No. 13780, entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” but judicial activism initially prevented it from going into effect. In June, a long-awaited ruling by the Supreme Court was a welcome comeuppance to activist judges who had blocked the so-called “travel ban” against immigration by potential terrorists.
The Supreme Court ruling never used the phrase “travel ban,” because Trump merely suspended for 90 days. As Trump explained while campaigning, a suspension makes sense “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” with the radical Muslims who commit terrorist attacks against innocent citizens.
This unanimous Court decision authorizes President Trump to suspend travel from the six countries associated with terrorism by any “foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The “bona fide relationship” must be significant, the Court explained. “For individuals, a close familial relationship is required,” the Court emphasized.
“A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member,” like someone’s wife or mother-in-law, would qualify. But weaker connections should not.
Three of the Justices wrote separately to say that Trump should have been given even more leeway to exclude dangerous aliens. This group included recently-confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined a strong opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas in favor of Trump.
By ruling for Trump, the Supreme Court may have really been averting a constitutional crisis for itself. The Constitution does not give the federal judiciary the power to enforce any of its rulings. Instead, federal courts depend entirely on the good will of the Executive Branch, which is under the control of President Trump, to implement court decisions.
This inherent check-and-balance on overreaching by federal courts may help explain why the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and gave Trump a much-deserved win. Even liberal justices on the Supreme Court agreed to issue a ruling for President Trump, which he is willing to enforce.