“The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States,” the White House said in a statement. “In this era of widespread terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country.”
“This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country,” the statement continued.
Trump also addressed the decision in televised remarks Tuesday afternoon.
“You just have to know who’s coming here,” he said. The president went on to mention MS-13, a gang that culls members primarily of Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran backgrounds — countries not included in the travel ban.
Signed in September, the executive order on immigration was Trump’s third attempt to crack down on permitting people from certain Muslim-majority nations to enter the United States. The controversial policy targets nationals from Iran, North Korea, Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, as well as government officials from Venezuela. As justification, it largely cites national security concerns brought by Islamic militants.
Hawaii led an effort by a few states to legally challenge the so-called Muslim ban.
In the weeks after the policy was enacted, lower courts blocked it on the basis of discrimination. The Supreme Court, however, allowed it to go into effect in early December pending the outcome of “Trump v. Hawaii,” where the state argued that the policy was unconstitutional.
Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion that “the government has set forth a sufficient national security justification to survive rational basis review.” The court’s four other conservative judges sided with Roberts, including Trump’s own Supreme Court appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
In the minutes after the Supreme Court decision was made public, the president reacted over Twitter, writing, “Wow!”
The court’s four liberal justices dissented.
In their minority opinion, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the ban is based in religious discrimination and simply “masquerades” as a matter of national security. They cited Trump’s history of anti-Muslim sentiment.
“Even before being sworn into office, then-candidate Trump stated that ‘Islam hates us,’ warned that ‘[w]e’re having problems with the Muslims, and we’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country,’ promised to enact a ‘total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States,’ and instructed one of his advisers to find a ‘lega[l]’ way to enact a Muslim ban,” read the dissent.
Trump’s first version of the policy, affecting people from seven majority-Muslim countries, was enacted just one week after his inauguration and caused chaos at airports as travelers were not given time to anticipate the change. Protests erupted around the country.
Facing numerous lawsuits, Trump enacted a second, revised ban in March, restricting entry by people from six countries, this time not including Iraq. It faced similar challenges in lower courts, prompting the third iteration around six months later.
This story has been updated with additional comment from Trump.