Justice Sonia Sotomayor reminded her colleagues that President Trump instructed an adviser to find a “legal” way to enact a Muslim ban. She did so as part of a searing dissent to the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday upholding the president’s ban on travel from mostly Muslim nations. Words matter, was her persuasive argument, detailing the many times Trump the candidate and president expressed bias against Muslims.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts accommodated the president’s request. The court found a legal way. It relied heavily on the broad powers of the president to control the flow of immigration, and it even widened their scope.

The court found that the travel ban involved national security, thus making the president’s position stronger. According to the majority, the ban is neutral and justified on its face. It reasoned, essentially, that the president’s words should be set aside, the focus belonging on the directive.

The directive before the court is the third version, and it is less offensive. With the addition of North Korea and Venezuela, it now includes non-Muslim countries. Chad has been removed, because it actually has been helpful in fighting terrorism. In other ways, the language is more restrained.

What hovers is the language of the president, or where the majority is least persuasive. It isn’t good enough to look past his words to the ample power of the office.

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor compares the travel ban to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. That may seem harsh, and the chief justice counters by stressing the ban is about those permitted to enter the country. Yet the core concern is the same, as Sotomayor makes clear — the president acting on the basis of glaring stereotypes.

A persistent flaw in ban has been the weakness of the national security claim. No doubt, terrorism is a threat. Why these predominantly Muslim countries, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, and not others, Saudi Arabia, for example? The White House still hasn’t provided an adequate explanation, many experts noting the absence of a credible security basis for the directive. The impression is that the chosen are more convenient, the president keeping his pledge without a certain diplomatic awkwardness.

Thus, Sotomayor arrives logically at her conclusion about intent: “ … a reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.” This isn’t just another presidential order. It carries the burden of the president’s persistent and extraordinary words: the likes of “Islam hates us” and “we’re having problems with Muslims entering coming into the country.”

In its focus on presidential power, the majority plays down what the country decided through immigration law five decades ago: There is no place for such discrimination. As a result, the majority has done more than give deference to executive authority. It now is complicit in the outrageous things the president has said.