The Supreme Court has dismissed one of two cases on President Trump’s travel ban, suggesting it will avoid a constitutional showdown and let the lower courts deal with the newest version of the policy.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court threw out an appeal on a provision of the travel ban that expired last month. The case was originally filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Maryland.
SCOTUS said it originally agreed to hear the case to resolve a challenge to “the temporary suspension of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.” Since that executive order “expired by its own terms” in September, the appeal “no longer presents a ‘live case or controversy.’”
As reported by The New York Times, “The justices vacated the appeals court’s decision, meaning it cannot be used as precedent” for future challenges.
The second appeal, which deals with refugee limits that are still in effect, could meet the same fate when it expires later this month.
“The Supreme Court also set aside a federal appeals court ruling that blocked the earlier policy and might have served as a helpful precedent for the new challenges,” reports Newsmax. “That’s a victory for the Trump Administration, which urged the court to take that step.”
SCOTUS had been scheduled to hear arguments on the ban this week, and its decision to dismiss the case suggests that the court doesn’t want to get into the travel ban argument unless absolutely necessary.
“If this court were to continue to hear these appeals, it would be asked to decide questions with no ongoing practical import,” writes Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco.
The ban’s challengers insist that the case against the ban should continue because the ban (though expired) has caused problems for travelers and families that will persist for years. A federal court in Maryland is scheduled to hear the ACLU’s case on October 17th.
In my opinion, the decision whether to leave the precedents in place will not matter considering the fact that challenges to the new ban will be heard by the same judges who ruled against the previous one.
Trump’s latest travel ban
The most recent version of the travel ban, announced last month, could severly limit the number of visas issues annually by the US – both for tourism and immigration purposes.
The new order does not have an expiration date and will impose restrictions on people from eight countries: Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, Syria, Chad, and Venezuela. Unlike the previous iteration, the new policy gives targeted countries a chance to get off the list if they cooperate with the US.
The effect on immigration is different for each country, ranging from a full stop on nearly all immigration, including tourists (North Korea, Syria, and Iran), to bans that only apply to government officials and their families (Venezuela).
The White House says the new ban is “based on detailed findings regarding the national security interests of the United States that were reached after a thorough, worldwide review and extensive consultation.”