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ISU Scholar: Travel Ban Ruling Ignored Context of Immigration Debate

U.S. Supreme Court
Carolyn Kaster
Protesters hold up signs and call out against the Supreme Court ruling upholding President Donald Trump's travel ban outside the the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

A Supreme Court scholar says Tuesday's ruling to uphold President Donald Trump's travel ban from Muslim-majority countries shows presidents have broad power to enforce immigration policy.

Constitutional law professor Michael Gizzi at Illinois State University said the court ignored the context of the immigration debate, specifically Trump's remarks suggesting he'd seek a Muslim ban.

“The executive power issue is, on the one hand, a distinct question from the discriminatory issue,” Gizzi said. “The way the second executive order was written, it was done in a way which was facially neutral, even though we know what was behind it.”

Gizzi noted the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, affirmed the wide latitude presidents have in immigration enforcement, even though Roberts made clear the ruling was not an endorsement of the policy.

Michael Gizzi
Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Illinois State University criminal justice professor Michael Gizzi says the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling protecting third parties from providing cell phone location data is a departure from the court's tendency to make law enforcement top priority.

“President Obama, President Reagan, President Carter had all used this same (Immigration and Nationality Act) in similar ways, although not necessarily motivated by the same potential animus toward a particular group,” Gizzi said.

Gizzi said the high court is giving the president a political victory, especially amid the uproar of refugees and separated families.

He said lawmakers who feel the ban is discriminatory should vote to end it.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin issued a statement that “History will not be kind to this president’s policies or the Supreme Court justices who lent their names to this troubling ruling.”

Cell Phone Tracking

Gizzi said the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 ruling requiring the government to get a warrant to track cell phone locations is a departure from the court’s handling of privacy cases over the last several decades.

“The court has established Fourth Amendment law in a way that makes it incredibly easy for law enforcement to apprehend criminals while minimizing individual privacy rights,” Gizzi said. “Crime control is first and privacy is second.”

The case stems from a Detroit man’s conviction for a string of robberies. Police tracked him down by using cell photo tracking to trace his location. He was sentenced to 116 years in prison.

Gizzi said the court has not determined whether cell phone surveillance devices called Stingrays, which police use to track real time cell phone location, are legal.

The high court ruled in 2014 that police need a warrant to search a cell phones. The latest ruling protects third-party providers, which until now had been required to turn over customer data.

“The reality is this case shows there is still a great deal of uncertainty in terms of how the court is going to grapple with some Fourth Amendment issues, particularly those dealing with technology.”

You can also listen to GLT's full story:

GLT's interview with Michael Gizzi.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at
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