Late last week, at a public event at Duke University, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg subtly attacked President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban
Though the justice did not explicitly condemn the ban, she dedicated a significant portion of her remarks on the subject to a discussion of the various exemptions that the high court provided in its June order, which allowed portions of the travel ban to take effect. She then noted that, in the Court’s view, the government’s initial interpretation of the order was excessively prohibitive.
Ginsburg explained that the Court permitted the federal government to implement the order while providing exemptions for individuals from the six affected countries possessing a “bona fide relationship” to a person or entity in the U.S. Ginsburg noted that these exemptions protect all first degree relatives of individuals currently in the country, as well as workers, lecturers and university students who have been invited to the U.S.
The State Department, in consultation with the Department of Justice, provided guidance as to the definition of “bona fide relationship” that initially excluded certain first degree relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In a subsequent order on July 19, the Supreme Court clarified that all these relations were protected by their June 26 decision.
Ginsburg then stated explicitly what was left unsaid in the order — that the Court viewed the State Department’s guidance as “too restrictive.”
“We decided that the government had been too restrictive in what family relationships qualify as close,” she said.
In their totality, Ginsburg’s remarks strongly suggest that she views the Court’s orders with respect to the travel ban as an admonishment of the administration which have strictly circumscribed Trump’s preferred policy.
At no point did she mention Trump, whom she has criticized in the past.
Oral arguments in the case have been scheduled for Oct. 10, the second week of the Court’s new term.
Ginsburg, now 84, has kept a robust schedule this summer, appearing at public forums in Washington, New York, Aspen, Colo., the Netherlands and Malta.
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