Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday tore into the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s controversial travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries.
Among them: Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim ever elected to Congress.
“Today’s decision undermines the core value of religious tolerance on which America was founded,” Ellison said in a statement shortly after the ruling came down. “I am deeply disappointed that this ruling gives legitimacy to discrimination and Islamophobia.”
In the 5-4 decision, the court’s five more conservative justices voted to reject a constitutional challenge to the third version of the ban, which Trump issued in September. During his 2016 presidential bid, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States. That proposal subsequently evolved into a vague promise of “extreme vetting.”
Earlier versions of ban restricted immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The latest iteration revised the list to include North Korea and Venezuela.
“America holds a unique place in the world as a nation of immigrants,” Ellison continued. “Unlike some other countries, we welcome refugees, asylum seekers, and dreamers fleeing war and instability in other parts of the world. America is and must remain the ‘land of the free’ where the family escaping authoritarianism in persecution in North Korea can seek shelter and thrive.”
Ellison compared the court’s ruling to the 1944 Korematsu decision that backed the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws.
“Today’s ruling is unjust,” Ellison said. “Like the Korematsu decision that upheld Japanese internment camps or Plessy v. Ferguson that established ‘separate but equal,’ this decision will someday serve as a marker of shame. Until then, we must keep fighting for an America that recognizes that every human life has value and reflects our values of generosity and inclusion for all.”
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., added to that list the court’s 2013 decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder), as well as the 1857 Dred Scott decision that no black person — free or slave — could claim U.S. citizenship.
“Shelby, Korematsu, Dred Scott, and now, Trump v. Hawaii,” Johnson tweeted. “Today’s decision joins a line of rulings history will look back on in shame.”
Trump, of course, expressed no such shame, calling Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling a “tremendous victory” and “a moment of profound vindication” for his immigration policies:
Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American People and the Constitution. The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States. In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country. This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country. As long as I am President, I will defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American People, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens. Our country will always be safe, secure, and protected on my watch.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., decried the ruling.
“The president’s travel ban doesn’t make us safer, and the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t make it right,” Schumer tweeted. “This is a backward and un-American policy that fails to improve our national security.”
Schumer’s counterpart in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed.
“The Supreme Court’s dangerous decision in Hawaii v. Trump undermines our values, our security, & our Constitution,” Pelosi tweeted. “No matter how many times @realDonaldTrump rewrites his #MuslimBan, it remains one of the great injustices of our time.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was equally appalled.
“The Supreme Court today sided with fear, racism and xenophobia and against the American ideals of religious freedom and tolerance,” Sanders said. “The Trump administration’s travel ban was never about keeping America safe. We need only look at Trump’s own words to understand that this has always been a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to ban Muslims from entering this country.”
He added: “America loses when we become divided by religion, race, national origin or sexual orientation. We are stronger when we come together.”
In an interview with CNN, Ellison bemoaned the actions of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in 2016 refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, Merrick Garland, ultimately paving the way for the Trump’s pick, Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch’s confirmation, in April 2017, gave conservatives a majority in the Supreme Court.
Shortly after Tuesday’s ruling, McConnell’s office tweeted a photo of the Kentucky senator meeting with Gorsuch.
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