Over at National Review, Andrew McCarthy writes that President Trump's executive order instituting a temporary ban on entry into the United States for foreign nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen is statutorily and constitutionally sound:Keep reading.
Under the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson wrote shortly after its adoption, "the transaction of business with foreign nations is Executive altogether. It belongs then to the head of that department, except as to such portions of it as are specifically submitted to the Senate. Exceptions are to be construed strictly."McCarthy, a former U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case argues that the 1965 immigration act prohibiting discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin does not make Trump's order illegal:
The rare exceptions Jefferson had in mind, obviously, were such matters as the approval of treaties, which Article II expressly vests in the Senate. There are also other textual bases for a congressional role in foreign affairs, such as Congress's power over international commerce, to declare war, and to establish the qualifications for the naturalization of citizens. That said, when Congress legislates in this realm, it must do so mindful of what the Supreme Court, in United States v. Curtiss-Wright (1936), famously described as "the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations – a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress."
With that as background, let's consider the claimed conflict between the president's executive order and Congress's statute. Mr. Bier asserts that Trump may not suspend the issuance of visas to nationals of specific countries because the 1965 immigration act "banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin." And, indeed, a section of that act, now codified in Section 1152(a) of Title 8, U.S. Code, states that (with exceptions not here relevant) "no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence" (emphasis added).McCarthy also cites specific language in federal immigration law that specifically authorizes this kind of temporary restriction for national security purposes...
Even on its face, this provision is not as clearly in conflict with Trump's executive order as Bier suggests. As he correctly points out, the purpose of the anti-discrimination provision (signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965) was to end the racially and ethnically discriminatory "national origins" immigration practice that was skewed in favor of Western Europe. Trump's executive order, to the contrary, is in no way an effort to affect the racial or ethnic composition of the nation or its incoming immigrants. The directive is an effort to protect national security from a terrorist threat, which, as we shall see, Congress itself has found to have roots in specified Muslim-majority countries. Because of the national-security distinction between Trump's 2017 order and Congress's 1965 objective, it is not necessary to construe them as contradictory, and principles of constitutional interpretation counsel against doing so.
Also at RCP.