Jewish groups acted quickly Tuesday to condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold President Donald Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from a group of Muslim-majority nations.
In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that the travel ban’s third iteration — Presidential Proclamation 9645 — was within the president’s executive authority. The proclamation, which went into effect in December while moving through the courts, bars entry from nationals of Somalia, Yemen, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, Libya and Iran.
“The proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, which included Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.
Denouncements came swiftly from several Jewish groups.
“The Muslim Ban is not simply an exercise in executive authority, it’s the Trump Administration’s official license to discriminate on the basis of religion and nationality,” Mark Hertfield, CEO of HIAS, wrote in a press release. “HIAS is disappointed in the Supreme Court’s affirmation of these policies of religions discrimination, fear and tribalism, which have permeated nearly every aspect of America’s tradition of welcome.”
The American Jewish Committee expressed “deep disappointment” in the ruling, calling the president’s directive “motivated by sheer religious animus.”
“The ban is repugnant to bedrock American values of religious equality and openness to immigrants from around the world,” AJC General Counsel Marc D. Stern said in the statement. “The Court’s decision today should not be the last word. The court left open the possibility of further legal challenges to the Proclamation. Congress can and should amend the immigration laws to deny the President the authority to implement this morally offensive order.”
The court’s four liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
The Zionist Organization of America filed an amicus brief in support of the proclamation.
“Our hearts are broken by today’s Supreme Court decision on the Muslim Ban,” Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, said in a statement. “Scapegoating people of one religion, restricting their travel, separating families across international borders — the Jewish community has seen this before, and we must raise our voices now.”
The rabbinic group T’ruah, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Reform movement’s political arm, Religious Action Center, also condemned the ruling.
“Historically, Jews have borne the brunt of religiously based discrimination and indifference to the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people. As Jews, we remember the consequences of being turned away from America’s shores, and we recall those who perished at the hands of bigoted policy,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the RAC’s director, said. “…Now that the Court has ruled, Congress must exercise its power to push back against offensive and dangerous policy and ensure that the future of this nation is one of moral integrity.”
JTA contributed to this story.