What the Supreme Court's Muslim Ban Order Actually Says
After the Supreme Court ruled today that it would hear arguments on the Muslim ban that a number of lower courts have ruled against, the president claimed “clear victory.” Hardly.
In fact, the court handed the government a sweeping, but not complete, defeat. It rejected the government’s blanket ban and recognized what all the lower courts in two separate cases saw: The ban would be devastating to families, organizations, and communities across the United States. The court also allowed the government to implement only a narrow version of the ban, explaining that anyone with a “bona fide relationship” to people or organizations in the United States cannot be barred. To view that decision as “clear victory” is wishful thinking.
Anyone with a relationship with a U.S. entity (like a school, employer, or nonprofit organization) is also exempted from the ban. The court was clear this has to be a “bona fide” relationship — meaning it cannot be manufactured just to get around the ban. But, again, a large segment of those who would otherwise be banned will fall into this category: students coming to study at a university, employees coming for a job, and clients and members of U.S. organizations.
So who is banned? It appears relatively few can be legitimately prohibited under the Supreme Court’s decision: individuals who are abroad and have no connections to family or organizations in the United States. To be clear, the Supreme Court did not say the ban is legal as applied to those individuals. It only allowed the government to implement this limited version of the ban while it considers whether the rest can be upheld at all.
We are confident that when the court reviews this unconstitutional order this fall, it will strike it down once and for all, and vindicate both our fundamental commitment to religious neutrality and the responsibility of the courts to serve as an independent check on the exercise of presidential power.