For those who oppose Donald Trump’s travel ban, today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a win-lose situation. First of all, the Court didn’t really rule on the merits of the case. They’ve decided to hear full arguments on the travel ban this fall.
In the meantime, they did rule on the stays, and I’ll try to make this simple:
The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s rulings in part, and struck them down in part. Basically, SCOTUS ruled — in what is essentially a 6-3 opinion — that the travel ban should not apply to any foreign national who has a legitimate relationship with a person or entity in the United States. In other words, if someone from Iraq is related to someone in the United States, or has a job in the United States, or has any other connection to the U.S., that person can come into the country.
However, those foreign nationals with no previous relationship to the United States can be prevented from coming in.
The same ruling applies to refugees: If someone who is being forced out of their country to escape war or persecution (like, say, thousands of Syrians), Trump can deny them entry into the United States unless that person already has a connection to someone here.
Three justices — Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch (grrrr) — believe that the travel ban should be fully enacted, at least until the full hearing this October.
It’s hard to say what that means for the case when it’s heard in full this October, and when the SCOTUS takes up the merits of the case (i.e., whether it specifically targeted Muslims), but my guess is that in the worst case scenario, 6 of the 9 justices will strike down part of the travel ban. Whether or not the entire travel ban is struck down is likely going to come down to Anthony Kennedy, as usual (though, there are rumors that he may retire today, which would suck).
For what it’s worth, based on his rulings in other cases today, it also looks like Gorsuch is exactly what the conservatives wanted: Another Scalia (or worse, an Alito).