Oral Arguments Aren’t Making Opponents of the Muslim Ban Comfortable

Oral arguments took place at the Supreme Court last week for the case regarding the legality of Donald Trump’s travel ban, commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban.”

The outcome was not comforting for most.  The Supreme Court of the United States is currently at a conservative majority, which typically does not bode well for challenges against a conservative president—although considering Trump’s unorthodox behavior as a president, ‘conservative’ is not the most commonly used word to describe him.

Some justices seemed concerned about the implications of second-guessing the decisions of the executive branch about those who can and cannot enter the country.

It was the hope of many that Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Kennedy would side with the four liberal justices and say that the ban is unconstitutional.  But, it seems unlikely, based on the questions that they were asking during the oral arguments.

Chief Justice Roberts did question if Trump would be able to avoid addressing the statements he made regarding immigration during his presidential campaign.  Roberts said, “Is there a statute of limitations on that?”

Justice Alito argued that since there are “50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world” the travel ban only affects “about 8 percent of the world’s Muslim population.”  “If you looked at the 10 countries with the most Muslims,” he furthered, “exactly one [from the ban], Iran, would be on that list of the top 10.”

But, the attorney arguing in opposition to the ban was ready.  He argued, “If I’m an employer and I have 10 African-Americans working for me and I only fire two of them…I don’t think anyone can say that’s not discrimination.”

Chief Justice Roberts asked long-winded hypotheticals inquiring about the president’s power to avoid terrorism.  For example, hypothetically, “We have 100 percent solid information that on a particular day, nationals from Syria are going to enter the United States with chemical and biological weapons…In that situation, could the president ban the entry of Syrian nationals on that one day?”

Of course, these hypotheticals further seem to prove that the point of the travel ban is to ban Muslim countries because of the common xenophobic idea that all Muslims are terrorists.  Banning Syrians for one day for a national security reason is vastly different than a travel ban that exists much longer than 24 hours and spans more than one singular group of people.

It is a blanket statement hiding behind ‘national security.’

We can only hope that the Supreme Court agrees.

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