The US Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries, handing him one of the biggest victories of his presidency.
The top court, in a 5-4 ruling, rejected the argument that the presidential order on travel restrictions represented unconstitutional religious discrimination, Reuters reports.
The ruling ends a fierce fight in the courts over whether the policy amounts to an unlawful Muslim ban, while also confirming broad presidential powers over immigration and national security policy, the report said.
Trump quickly claimed “profound vindication” after earlier setbacks in lower courts, which had blocked his travel ban announced in September, as well as two prior versions, in legal challenges brought by the state of Hawaii and others.
Trump has called the travel ban necessary to protect the US against attacks by Islamic militants.
In remarks at the White House, Trump hailed “a tremendous victory for the American people and for our Constitution.”
“We have to be tough, and we have to be safe, and we have to be secure. At a minimum, we have to make sure that we vet people coming into the country,” the president said.
The ban prohibits entry into the United States of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The Supreme Court allowed it to go largely into effect in December while the legal challenge continued.
The court held that the challengers had failed to show that the travel ban violated either US immigration law or the US Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said that Trump’s administration “has set forth a sufficient national security justification” to prevail. “We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Roberts added.
The ruling, which was denounced by civil rights groups and Democrats as well as protesters outside the courthouse, affirmed broad presidential discretion over who is allowed to enter the US.
Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Despite today’s ruling, turning away those fleeing horrific violence and persecution or to discriminate against people based on nationality and religion continues to be as un-American as ever.”
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