US Supreme Court hints the travel ban on citizens of certain countries will be upheld
For US President Donald J Trump, buffeted by a series of resignations and other scandals — some sponsored by his opponents and others very real — the news that the US Supreme Court on Wednesday is leaning, given how the hearing went and the Justices’ obiter dicta, towards okaying the travel ban against citizens of mainly Muslim-majority countries, could not have come at a better time. While it is a fact that his popularity shows no signs of diminishing Stateside despite the contempt he is held in by liberals, especially after a series of measures on the economic and tax policy side that have reinvigorated the American economy, his doggedness in pursuing the ‘wall’ project on the US-Mexico border, his hard line on H1B visas, his deal-making skill plus bluster that just may have brought the North Korean regime to the talks table and his open avowals of support for those countries he believes are US allies, his reputation and image internationally, never too high to begin with, has taken a real beating over the past year. Well, there is likely to be much more uproar across global capitals if the Supreme Court weighs in behind him and, as it has hinted, declare the travel ban legal and Constitutional. And his stock is likely to rise domestically with corresponding alacrity especially across Middle America even as East and West Coast liberals pinch their noses harder than they have hitherto.
After a series of setbacks to the President’s travel ban by lower courts, legal representatives for the State of Hawaii (and Others) who are challenging the US Federal Government in the case are, after Wednesday’s hearing, already speaking of the 5:4 conservative majority in the Supreme Court being likely to tilt the decision in favour of the Trump Administration and are pointing to the “deference” the Court is showing to the Chief Executive in preparing their supporters for what looks like an imminent defeat. But the facts are these: Americans take their security very seriously indeed and in the wake of Islamist and other terrorist attacks and activities targeted at their homeland, they have elected a President who is willing to weigh the rights of those wanting to travel to America (including the many who would want to for genuine reasons, of course) and his responsibility to protect the lives and property of US citizens in their own country and come down on the side of the latter. One does not have to be an ignorant, illiberal redneck to understand that extraordinarily dangerous times call for extraordinary measures, with the caveat that these are temporary in nature to deal with the emergent situation and not written into the statute forever. Trump’s travel ban ticks this box. There is reason why Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated their unwillingness on Wednesday to second-guess Trump on the national security justifications offered for the policy.
The logic behind having a countries-specific travel ban on citizens of nations which the US intelligence-security establishment assess are either incapable or unwilling to satisfy the requirements of “thorough vetting” before they are allowed into the country is, in principle, a self-defense measure. Washington would be well-advised to add Pakistan to the list.