Assignment Overview Unit 2
Trump v. Hawaii case was filed in the United States federal court, following a series of actions by the president to restrict movement into the country. Notably, President Donald Trump had initially issued two executive orders, which suspended entry of certain foreign nationals in the nation for 90 days. After the first order was litigated and the second’s expiry fell due, the president issued a Proclamation that also restricted travel to the United States, which was rejected by the lower courts. The Proclamation was eventually appealed to the Supreme Court, and the majority ruled in favor of President Trump, the petitioner. Although the majority based their ruling on existing provisions of the U.S. constitution and sections of the Migration Act, I tend to agree with the dissenting justices that a higher level of scrutiny and rationality was not applied in making the final decision.
Facts of the Case
The Trump v. Hawaii case was a petition filed by President Trump after the Ninth Circuit rejected his Proclamation. Notably, the Proclamation issued by the president restricted travel to the United States by foreign citizens from eight countries. Initially, the president had signed Executive Orders EO-1 and EO-2, which also targeted travel restrictions for 90 days from seven and six countries, respectively. Order EO-1 was rejected, while two provisions of EO-2 were allowed for enforcement. After the Supreme Court granted review of the third act, the Proclamation was assessed on four primary grounds to make a final ruling. Firstly, the Superior Court had to determine whether the plaintiff’s claims were justiciable in federal court. Secondly, an evaluation of whether the president had the constitutional authority to issue the Proclamation. Thirdly, an assessment of whether the global injunction by the federal district courts was impermissibly overbroad. And fourth, whether the Proclamation violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
Law Passed to Exclude Foreign Nationals
The Federal district court passed the law governing sections 6(a) and (b) of EO-2 to exclude certain foreign nationals from traveling to the United States. Notably, the law directed the suspension of applications for refugee status and travel of refugees into the country under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) by 120 days from the effective date of EO-2 (“Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d.). The law implied that no refugee would travel in the country within 120 days after institution, regardless of the individual being part of the USRAP program. However, exceptions were made for refugees who could claim a genuine relationship with an individual or entity in the country (“Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d.). The law also suspended entry of individuals under USRAP once 50,000 refugees had migrated into the country in the fiscal year 2017 unless they had a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States (“Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d.). According to the government, the law aimed at limited movement and preventing intrusion of foreign terrorists in the United States.
Court’s Decision on Justiciability of the Case
The Supreme court stated that the plaintiff’s claims challenging the president’s authority to issue the Proclamation were justiciable in federal court. According to law, justiciability means “types of matters that a court can adjudicate” (“Justiciability,” n.d.). In this context, the court ruling meant that the Federal court could decide the Trump v. Hawaii case. However, this ruling was based on an assumption of the federal court’s justiciability rather than on rational grounds.
Court’s Decision on Standing to File the Lawsuit
The Supreme court also stated that the plaintiff lacked the standing to file the lawsuit. Standing in law refers to the capacity of a plaintiff to file a suit in court (“Justiciability,” n.d.). In the case scenario, it was ruled that Hawaii et al. could not file the lawsuit against the government based on two arguments made by the court. Firstly, the majority argued that the Proclamation by the president did not violate any statute. Secondly, the Proclamation was non-discriminative and solely purposed to prevent the detrimental effects of foreign national’s entry to the country’s interest. Therefore, the fact that no harm was directed to any foreign individual led the court to decide that the plaintiff lacked the standing to file the lawsuit against President Trump.
Court’s Decision on the President’s Authority
Although the plaintiff challenged the president’s capacity to pass the travel law, the court ruled in favor of the petitioner. Notably, the court based its decision on the provisions of Section 1182(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), arguing that the president had a broad discretion to suspend entry of non-citizens into the United States (Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d.). In this context, the court argued that the president’s judgment regarding the possibility of infiltration by foreign terrorists by citizens from the eight countries and a possible detrimental effect on U.S. interests caused by the entry was part of the broad discretion to prohibit travel. The court also based its argument on prior actions by other presidents to block entry of nationals of some countries as a basis for President Trump’s authority to do the same. Hence, the court used the broad discretion of the INA act and prior acts by other presidents to argue that the U.S. president had the authority to pass the travel law.
Based on the assessment of opinion presented by the jurors, I tend to agree with the dissenting justices that a higher level of scrutiny was not applied in making the final decision. As opinionated by Justice Stephen Breyer and Kagan, there exist concerns about whether the government applied for the exemption and waiver programs as required by law (“Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d). Notably, there are specific provisions made by Section 1182 of the Immigration and Nationality Act on denial of entry into the United States. For instance, the code states that any alien who a consular officer has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in, or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity is inadmissible to the country (“8 U.S. Code 1182,” n.d.). Although the code allows the president to deny aliens entry into the United States, it also makes exemptions for reasonable rules and regulations which the majority appear to have overlooked in the ruling. As such, the likelihood of failure of the president to comprehensively apply the exemption and waiver associated with the migration Act should have been reason enough to reject the Proclamation.
I also agree with the dissenting Justice that a higher level of rationality was not utilized in construing the legal precedent. As observed by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader, the majority failed to acknowledge the facts and implications of the president’s Proclamation (“Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d.). Notably, the Proclamation to restrict travel to the United States by citizens from eight countries would likely affect the livelihood of persons who had valid reasons to enter the nation. For instance, upon the enactment of the law, families were likely to be separated from each other. At the same time, refugees from the affected countries would lack an opportunity to seek protection in the state. Besides, employers and candidates from the eight countries with an employment interest in the United States would also be locked out. If scrutinized in such a perspective, it can be argued that the majority ignored facts that would have a negative implication on both citizens and entities within and outside of the United States. Therefore, if such rationality was applied in construing the legal precedent, the Proclamation may have been rejected.
Furthermore, I agree with the dissenting Justices on the failure of the majority to utilize higher scrutiny on the real intentions of the Proclamation. As part of the dissenting judges opinionated, the Proclamation was seemingly part of the president’s terms to ensure total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States (“Trump v. Hawaii,” n.d.). Rather than analyzing patterns of prior executive orders, the majority appeared to rely on standard scrutiny of non-majority-Muslim countries that were included in the Proclamation exclusively. Hence, the majority failed to analyze the law in multiple ways that cut across the political and legal fields. As is evident from the president’s previous actions, there have been plans to ensure a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, an approach the government terms as a measure to review the country’s security measures. Besides, an analysis of the initial executive orders shows that the travel ban was instituted in seven predominantly Muslim countries. Information derived from this level of scrutiny should have been a substantial reason for the court to reject the petition.
“8 U.S. Code 1182. Inadmissible aliens” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1182
“Justiciability” (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/justiciability
“Trump v. Hawaii. (n.d.). Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2017/17-965