STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A signature part of President Trump's campaign and a signature moment of his first days in office has now received validation from the U.S. Supreme Court. By a 5-4 majority, the court upheld a modified version of the president's travel ban, which stops most travel from several countries. This was the third version of the ban twice struck down by courts as the president narrowed its scope and added a non-Muslim country. He had originally called for an end to Muslim travel to the United States. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley is going to begin our coverage. Hey there, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Steve.
INSKEEP: So how did John Roberts, the chief justice, justify the ruling in favor of the travel ban?
HORSLEY: Well, he said that the Immigration and Naturalization Act exudes deference to the president. You might remember that in - when the first version of the travel ban was put forward, the Trump administration was making that argument, that decisions that the president made concerning who could come into the country were not even subject to judicial review. John Roberts does not go that far, but he does say that this is an area where the president has broad authority that's been delegated to him by Congress, and that in exercising version three of the travel ban, the president was acting within that authority.
INSKEEP: You know, two things occur to me as you're talking, Scott, and one is that John Roberts, the chief justice, has made a pattern of exercising deference to whoever is president. He, at one point, upheld Obamacare, and it appeared to be a key factor there, was letting the president do what he wants to do. And Congress, since World War II especially, has given tons of authority to the president in national security situations. And that's what the court found this was, was a national security judgment.
HORSLEY: That's right. And again, this was version 3.0 of the travel ban, the version that the administration adopted last September. And as you point out, they did add two non-Muslim countries to the list - North Korea and Venezuela. Justice Roberts actually sidestepped the question about whether this was largely motivated by anti-Muslim animus as telegraphed by the president during his campaign when he called for an outright ban on Muslim...
INSKEEP: Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States is the way the president phrased it then.
HORSLEY: That's right. What John Roberts said was is the issue before us is not whether to denounce those statements by the president but the significance of those statements in reviewing a presidential directive that he called neutral on its face. So this travel ban, by the third version, they had neutralized any anti-Muslim animus. And so in the majority decision, the five-person majority decision, they didn't even really address the question of whether there was a religious establishment issue here - very different in the twin dissents, which came down in a different place on that question. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.