The Supreme Court said Tuesday it won’t hear oral arguments on the legality of President Donald Trump’s travel ban – for now – but the legal fight over efforts to halt entry to the United States from certain countries is far from settled.
Justices dismissed the second of two cases challenging the legality of the President’s controversial travel ban, saying that key provisions of Trump’s March executive order have expired.
“Because those provisions of the order have “expired by [their] own terms,” the appeal no longer presents a “live case or controversy,” the justices wrote in a one-page ruling.
The court said it expressed “no view on the merits” of the case, and the legal battle remains alive and well in lower court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that she would have left the lower court order in place.
Trump issued a new executive order late month – dubbed “Travel Ban 3.0” – which is already before the lower courts, and those challenges are likely to make their way back up to the Supreme Court on an emergency basis.
A federal judge in Hawaii has already issued a nationwide injunction blocking most of Trump’s newest travel ban.
The second version of the travel ban, also issued in March, had barred residents of six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Travel Ban 3.0, which was set to take effect last week, covers eight countries – Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen. (The Hawaii ruling does not impact the restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.)
Tuesday’s action means the court has for the moment dodged what was billed as one of the biggest cases of the term. It’s unclear how quickly the latest challenges will move in the lower court and whether the justices would agree to hear a new challenge on the merits of the case before this term ends.
Legal actions on previous travel ban
Earlier this month, the justices dismissed a Maryland case challenging a provision of the March order that halted travel from six Muslim-majority countries. That provision expired on September 24.
At the time, the court declined to act on the second case – brought by the state of Hawaii –that dealt not only with the ban on travel from the six countries but also a ban on refugees. Presumably the justices waited because the ban on refugees only expired on Tuesday.
Now that the refugee ban has expired, the justices dismissed that case as well.
The court’s action Tuesday wiped previous lower court rulings on the earlier ban off the books and asked the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the case.