US Supreme Court upholds Trump's 'Muslim ban'

Clay Curtis
June 28, 2018

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy says he is retiring.

The 81-year-old Kennedy said in a statement he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court.

His retirement sets the stage for a major showdown in the Republican-led U.S. Senate over the confirmation of Trump's eventual pick for the lifetime appointment to replace Kennedy and the future direction of the Supreme Court, all coming before crucial November elections in which Democrats are seeking to seize control of Congress from Trump's Republicans.

Kennedy concurred with the majority, allowing the ban to stand and finding no evidence of anti-Muslim animus in the official presidential Proclamation that bars entry to residents of six predominantly-Muslim nations and some Venezuelans.

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But some civil liberties groups and immigration advocates likened it to a 1944 Supreme Court decision that upheld an executive order requiring Americans of Japanese ancestry to be sent to detention camps.

Speaking in the Oval Office during a meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Trump said that when considering the next nomination he would draw from a list of 25 candidates that his campaign collected during his presidential run. The hashtag "NoMuslimBanEver" trended on Twitter as arguments were made before the Supreme Court in April, during which time Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that Islam was "one of the great countries of the world".

Illustrating the high stakes, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer called it "the most important Supreme Court vacancy for this country in at least a generation". A person familiar with the White House nomination process said there were five front-runners on Trump's list. "He's a man. who has displayed tremendous vision, and tremendous heart, and he will be missed". "We simply hold today that plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claim". A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights. He also pointed out Mr. Trump had relied on countries singled out by the Obama administration and Congress in drawing up his list, suggesting it wasn't the president's feelings that motivated the specific policy. The four liberals on the court - justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor - cast the dissenting votes. Meanwhile, individual states all over the country have been testing the limits of Roe v. Wade and a subsequent case, Casey v. Senator Mitch McConnell has reportedly already stated that the party will move to replace Kennedy by next fall. Lower courts had blocked the travel ban announced in September, as well as two prior versions, in legal challenges brought by the state of Hawaii and others.

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