The protesters are right. (James Keivom / New York Daily News)

Donald Trump, motivated by odious bigotry, as a candidate called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States. Following through on this rhetoric with policy would have been both wrong and flagrantly unconstitutional.

Once President, Trump’s administration concocted a travel ban that, in its third iteration, bars most entry from seven countries, five of which are Muslim-majority. This was wrong. It is not, however, unconstitutional.

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In a 5-4 decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court rightly ruled that the President, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, has wide legal authority to determine who can and cannot be permitted admission to the United States on national security grounds, a latitude that extends to barring whole nationalities, so long as that decision is based on objective criteria and not motivated by group animus.

There is no question candidate Trump was driven by fear and loathing. But “the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements” made in his campaign, wrote Chief Justice John Roberts. “It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility.”

The administration based its executive order on the failure of various countries to share with American authorities information sufficient to make a reliable determination about the safety of their nationals. The Department of Homeland Security applied a three-part review based on legitimate criteria. Countries came off the list when our government determined theirs met stated requirements. The feds settled on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela (but only for government officials from there).

Egypt, the world’s most populous Arab nation, wasn’t included. Nor was Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, or Pakistan, the second most populous.

Moreover, within the affected nations, the order builds in exceptions for various individuals and a waiver program based on humanitarian need. (There is serious dispute about whether these waivers are being issued in good faith.)

This is not to say we support the ban. It cruelly denies families throughout America, including thousands of decent New Yorkers, the right to visit their parents, grandparents and children, stops students from studying here, and creates widespread suspicion where none is warranted. This is Kafkaesque nonsense.

If the object is preventing terrorism, the policy is equal parts ignorant and arbitrary. Countries that have sent the most terrorists to the United States, like Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11, were not included.

But it is in the President’s power to make this fateful error.

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