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SCOTUS Focuses on Letter of Law, Not Context, in Upholding Travel Ban

© AFP 2023 / KAREN BLEIER US Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. (File)
US Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. (File) - Sputnik International
The US Supreme Court sided with the administration of US President Donald Trump Tuesday in upholding a travel ban imposed on seven countries, most of which are majority-Muslim. The ban, initially billed by Trump as a “Muslim ban,” was revised several times in order to comply with the US Constitution.

Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear was joined by Sundrop Carter, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, to discuss the court's close 5-4 ruling.

"I think this is a very disappointing decision," Carter told Loud & Clear co-hosts John Kiriakou and Walter Smolarek. "We have been fighting to stop this Muslim ban since the first one was announced in January of 2017, and I think it's disappointing that the Supreme Court has decided to uphold that and give tacit support to this administration's anti-immigrant and xenophobic agenda."

Opposition to the ban relied on the idea that its underlying purpose was motivated by Islamophobia. During the early days of the 2016 election, then-candidate Trump repeatedly called for a "ban on Muslim immigration." As far back as as a December 7, 2015, statement from his campaign, Trump was 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."

Since then, Trump has changed his tune, positing the ban as being purely in response to national security concerns. More countries were also added to the target list, including North Korea and Venezuela, increasing its scope but watering down the evidence critics could point to for the ban being directed against Muslims. Nonetheless, other nations still targeted include Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, all Muslim-majority states included in the original ban.


"I think we can see, this president and this administration has been very clear about their motivations, from the day that Trump announced his [candidacy] — when he, you know, called Mexicans names," Carter said. "Throughout his campaign he has consistently targeted immigrant communities and refugees as being criminals, as being bad people, as being problems. And you know, every single immigration policy that he has put forward has reinforced this."

"One of the things that this shows is a real weakness in our legal system that, you know, we put preference on the letter of the law without understanding the context and the impact," she said. "And this is one of those situations that, you know, maybe not within the four corners of the policy as it is written, or the executive order as it is written, doesn't say that it is trying to discriminate against Muslims, but it is very clear that that motivation exists." 

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"If you look at this administration and this president in totality, it is very clear that they have a very racist and xenophobic agenda and this policy is part of that."

In their dissent, justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg struck similar chords, saying that the decision leaves what was originally billed as a Muslim ban "undisturbed" because it "now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns."

"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," the justices added.

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