Supreme Court Blocks Asylum Ban in a Rebuke to Trump

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s liberal justices after criticizing the president last month.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s request to let it immediately ban people from receiving asylum if they cross the border between official ports of entry. Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s four liberal justices on Friday to uphold a temporary restraining order that blocks President Donald Trump’s asylum ban from going into effect.

Trump issued the asylum ban on November 9 in response to the migrant caravans he demonized in advance of the midterm elections. The ban conflicts with US immigration law, which states that migrants are eligible for asylum “whether or not” they arrive “at a designated port of arrival.”

Jon Tigar, a district court judge in California, temporarily blocked the ban on November 19 after finding that it “irreconcilably conflicts” with immigration law and congressional intent. “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Tigar wrote.

Trump latched on to the fact that Tigar was appointed by former President Barack Obama. “This was an Obama judge, and I’ll tell you what, this is not going to happen anymore,” he said November 20. Roberts issued a rare rebuke of a sitting president the next day. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said in a statement. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” 

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Tigar’s temporary restraining order in a 2-1 ruling. “Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, ‘legislate from the bench,’ neither may the Executive legislate from the Oval Office,” Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote for the majority.

The Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court. Roberts, who was also appointed by Bush, sided with the court’s four Obama- and Clinton-appointed judges and against the president on Friday to keep the asylum ban blocked. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted to continue to obstruct the ban from the hospital after undergoing surgery for lung cancer.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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