Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Trump’s Travel Ban is a Disappointment

We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court 5-4 ruling which provides a legal basis for the Trump Administration to prohibit individuals from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela from entering the United States. We agree with the four dissenting Justices that the majority ignored key facts that overwhelmingly showed that this is a religious ban that “masquerades behind a facade of national-security con­cerns.”

At issue is the Trump Administration’s third Executive Order on immigration, which differed from the original January 2017 and March 2017 orders by the removal of Iraq and Sudan, and the addition of three non-muslim majority countries. Five Justices held that the President has broad discretion to protect national security, and irrespective of Trump’s personal beliefs or statements, his action was justified because he consulted with other agencies and officials on whether people from certain countries posed security risks.

This was harshly criticized in the two dissenting opinions as a highly abridged account that ignores:

  • repeated anti-muslim statements without apology by Trump and some of the officials with whom he consulted;
  • public statistics showing that people eligible to receive a waiver under the very terms of the Order are being denied;
  • weak analysis and preparation done in the agency review;
  • lack of exemptions for people in need, such as asylum seekers; and
  • efforts to edit the Executive Orders to make them more justifiable based on territory than religion

Cumulatively, the dissenting justices believed there was enough evidence to hold the Executive Order unlawful. Unfortunately, history will not reflect that.  Since Trump issued his first travel ban, Mozilla and 100+ tech companies filed several “friend of the court” briefs warning against its adverse consequences and reminding the Court of the importance of diversity.

The internet is built, maintained, and governed through a myriad of global civil society, private sector, government, academic, and developer communities. Travel across borders is central for their cooperation and exchange of ideas and information. It is also necessary for a global workforce that reflects the diversity of the internet itself.

Today’s opinion turns “a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Procla­mation inflicts upon countless families and individuals.” We will continue our fight to protect the internet. Countries may arbitrarily close their borders, but the internet must remain open and accessible to everyone.