by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[A] five-justice majority of the Supreme Court demonstrated unequivocally that it can read and apply the plain language of a federal statute. The only surprise in the Court’s travel-ban ruling is that four dissenting justices tried to find a way around the express will of Congress. The message here is clear: If the American people don’t want the president to exercise a breathtaking degree of control over American immigration policy, then Congress must act. The courts won’t save you from the law.
At issue … in Trump v. Hawaii was the third version of Trump’s executive order limiting entry into the United States by foreign nationals of eight nations: Chad, Iran, Somalia, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The administration determined that each of these countries failed to provide sufficient information about security risks (or presented additional risk factors). …
… Standing in support of the Trump administration was a single, crystal-clear statutory provision — one passed by Congress years ago — that grants the president enormous power to exclude individuals from the United States. Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), reads:
“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.”
As Justice Roberts wrote, the statute “exudes deference to the President in every clause.”