TRUMP v. HAWAII
878 F. 3d 662, reversed and remanded.
The Chief Justice delivered the opinion of the Court.
…. The text of §1182(f ) states:
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
By its terms, §1182(f ) exudes deference to the President in every clause. It entrusts to the President the decisions whether and when to suspend entry (“[w]henever [he] finds that the entry” of aliens “would be detrimental” to the national interest); whose entry to suspend (“all aliens or any class of aliens”); for how long (“for such period as he shall deem necessary”); and on what conditions (“any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate”). It is therefore unsurprising that we have previously observed that §1182(f ) vests the President with “ample power” to impose entry restrictions in addition to those elsewhere enumerated in the INA….
Plaintiffs believe that the Proclamation violates this prohibition by singling out Muslims for disfavored treatment. The entry suspension, they contend, operates as a “religious gerrymander,” in part because most of the countries covered by the Proclamation have Muslim-majority populations. And in their view, deviations from the information-sharing baseline criteria suggest that the results of the multi-agency review were “foreordained.” Relying on Establishment Clause precedents concerning laws and policies applied domestically, plaintiffs allege that the primary purpose of the Proclamation was religious animus and that the President’s stated concerns about vetting protocols and national security were but pretexts for discriminating against Muslims.
At the heart of plaintiffs’ case is a series of statements by the President and his advisers casting doubt on the official objective of the Proclamation. For example, while a candidate on the campaign trail, the President published a “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration” that called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” That statement remained on his campaign website until May 2017. Then-candidate Trump also stated that “Islam hates us” and asserted that the United States was “having problems with Muslims coming into the country.” Shortly after being elected, when asked whether violence in Europe had affected his plans to “ban Muslim immigration,” the President replied, “You know my plans. All along, I’ve been proven to be right.”
One week after his inauguration, the President issued EO–1. In a television interview, one of the President’s campaign advisers explained that when the President “first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally….” Plaintiffs also note that after issuing EO–2 to replace EO–1, the President
expressed regret that his prior order had been “watered down” and called for a “much tougher version” of his “Travel Ban.” Shortly before the release of the Proclamation, he stated that the “travel ban . . . should be far larger, tougher, and more specific,” but “stupidly that would not be politically correct.” ….
The President of the United States possesses an extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf. Our Presidents have frequently used that power to espouse the principles of religious freedom and tolerance on which this Nation was founded…. Plaintiffs argue that this President’s words strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition. But the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself….
For more than a century, this Court has recognized that the admission and exclusion of foreign nationals is a “fundamental sovereign attribute exercised by the Government’s political departments largely immune from judicial control.”…. Because decisions in these matters may implicate “relations with foreign powers,” or involve “classifications defined in the light of changing political and economic circumstances,” such judgments “are frequently of a character more appropriate to either the Legislature or the Executive.”….
The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion. Plaintiffs and the dissent nonetheless emphasize that five of the seven nations currently included in the Proclamation have Muslim-majority populations. Yet that fact alone does not support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks….
Finally, the dissent invokes Korematsu v. United States. Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U. S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission… The entry suspension is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President—the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular President in promulgating an otherwise valid Proclamation.
The dissent’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords this Court the opportunity to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—“has no place in law under the Constitution.” ….
Justice Sotomayor, with whom Justice Ginsburg joins, dissenting.
The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created. Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. That alone suffices to show that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens. Because that troubling result runs contrary to the Constitution and our precedent, I dissent….
The Establishment Clause forbids government policies “respecting an establishment of religion.” The “clearest command” of the Establishment Clause is that the Government cannot favor or disfavor one religion over another…. “When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose” of disfavoring a particular religion, “it violates that central Establishment Clause value of official religious neutrality, there being no neutrality when the government’s ostensible object is to take sides.”
Although the majority briefly recounts a few of the statements and background events that form the basis of plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge … tthat highly abridged account does not tell even half of the story…. The full record paints a far more harrowing picture, from which a reasonable observer would readily conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.
During his Presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump pledged that, if elected, he would ban Muslims from entering the United States. Specifically, on December 7, 2015, he issued a formal statement “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” That statement, which remained on his campaign website until May 2017 (several months into his Presidency), read in full:
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing ‘25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad’ and 51% of those polled ‘agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.’ Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against nonbelievers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.
“Mr. Trum[p] stated, ‘Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of the horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect of human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.’—Donald J. Trump.” …. On December 8, 2015, Trump justified his proposal during a television interview by noting that President Franklin D. Roosevelt “did the same thing” with respect to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II….
As the majority correctly notes, “the issue before us is not whether to denounce” these offensive statements. Rather, the dispositive and narrow question here is whether a reasonable observer, presented with all “openly available data,” the text and “historical context” of the Proclamation, and the “specific sequence of events” leading to it, would conclude that the primary purpose of the Proclamation is to disfavor Islam and its adherents by excluding them from the country…. The answer is unquestionably yes….
The majority first emphasizes that the Proclamation “says nothing about religion.” Even so, the Proclamation, just like its predecessors, overwhelmingly targets Muslim-majority nations. Given the record here, including all the President’s statements linking the Proclamation to his apparent hostility toward Muslims, it is of no moment that the Proclamation also includes minor restrictions on two non-Muslim majority countries, North Korea and Venezuela, or that the Government has removed a few Muslim-majority countries from the list of covered countries since EO–1 was issued. Consideration of the entire record supports the conclusion that the inclusion of North Korea and Venezuela, and the removal of other countries, simply reflect subtle efforts to start “talking territory instead of Muslim,” … precisely so the Executive Branch could evade criticism or legal consequences for the Proclamation’s otherwise clear targeting of Muslims….
Today’s holding is all the more troubling given the stark parallels between the reasoning of this case and that of Korematsu v. United States… In Korematsu, the Court gave “a pass [to] an odious, gravely injurious racial classification” authorized by an executive order…. As here, the Government invoked an ill-defined national-security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion…. As here, the exclusion order was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about, inter alia, a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States…. As here, the Government was unwilling to reveal its own intelligence agencies’ views of the alleged security concerns to the very citizens it purported to protect…. And as here, there was strong evidence that impermissible hostility and animus motivated the Government’s policy.
Although a majority of the Court in Korematsu was willing to uphold the Government’s actions based on a barren invocation of national security, dissenting Justices warned of that decision’s harm to our constitutional fabric. Justice Murphy recognized that there is a need for great deference to the Executive Branch in the context of national security, but cautioned that “it is essential that there be definite limits to [the government’s] discretion,” as “[i]ndividuals must not be left impoverished of their constitutional rights on a plea of military necessity that has neither
substance nor support.” Justice Jackson lamented that the Court’s decision upholding the Government’s policy would prove to be “a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself,” for although the executive order was not likely to be long lasting, the Court’s willingness to tolerate it would endure….
In the intervening years since Korematsu, our Nation has done much to leave its sordid legacy behind…. Today, the Court takes the important step of finally overruling Korematsu, denouncing it as “gravely wrong the day it was decided.” …. This formal repudiation of a shameful precedent is laudable and long overdue. But it does not make the majority’s decision here acceptable or right. By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one “gravely wrong” decision with another.
Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.
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