A noted Washington, D.C., law professor says the courts will likely uphold President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people coming to the U.S. from seven Middle East countries, despite what both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have suggested.
"People, I think, have been underestimating the precedent here that can be marshaled by the Trump administration," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Turley cited, among other cases, the Supreme Court upholding in 2011 former President Barack Obama's executive action imposing more thorough vetting for refugees traveling to the U.S. from Iraq. The case, known as the "Kentucky case," stemmed from two Iraqi refugees who were living in Kentucky and who were arrested in May 2011 for their alleged ties to building roadside bombs in 2005, the Washington Post reported.
Following concern among lawmakers, the Obama administration said it would conduct deeper background checks through additional measures of screening for the nearly 60,000 other Iraqi refugees who had already traveled to the U.S.
Trump's order imposes "extreme vetting" for all persons traveling to the U.S. from seven countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, which the Obama administration designated in 2015 as "areas of concern" because of terrorist activity. According to CNN, this "extreme vetting" could require refugees traveling from these countries to produce a list of websites and social media sites they have visited, as well as contacts in their phones.
Lawmakers on both of the aisle have suggested or at least raised questions as to whether Trump's order constitutes a "religious test," which is unconstitutional. Even Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) expressed that concern Sunday.
“I don't want to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful; we don't have religious tests in this country," McConnell said during an interview with ABC's "This Week."
Similarly, Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine referred Sunday to Trump's executive order as a "religious test" on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Turley, however, made clear Monday that the courts likely won't view the order the same way as McConnell and Kaine.
"The court will not view this as a Muslim ban. At least I don't expect them to," Turley said.
"When you look at this thing legally, it's a vastly different creature from they way people are describing outside," Turley added, referring to the fact that Trump's executive order has been widely characterized as a "Muslim ban," even though it does not seek to ban all Muslims; it temporarily restricts all travel from the seven Middle East countries to the U.S.