Monday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the injunction against most of President Donald Trump's "travel ban" is a major victory - and not just because he will be able to implement the policy, but because the case is only scheduled to be heard in the fall, i.e.in October at the earliest.
The justices had combined the two cases and set them for argument that was to have taken place Tuesday.
Dismissing the cases would allow the court to avoid ruling on hard legal issues, at least for a while.
The justices had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Tuesday, but removed it from their calendar after Trump's 90-day ban expired on September 24 and was replaced with a reworked ban. But after the travel ban expired last month and a new policy was rolled out, the court canceled the argument and began to weigh whether it should decide the legality of the policy after all. Trump explained that the federal government had, as directed in the March 6 order, evaluated the procedures that it used to vet travelers to the United States.
The five-sentence order said the justices "express no view on the merits" of the dispute. The justices will most likely only turn to that case after October 24, when the refugee provision of the March executive order also expires. Even before the high court acted, the focus of the clash was already shifting to federal trial courts around the country, where opponents are taking steps to press new challenges.
The Supreme Court in June agreed to take up the two cases and allowed the travel ban, which had been blocked by lower courts, to go into effect with certain changes.
If the justices are indeed waiting for the 120-day suspension of the refugee program to expire on October 24, there may not be any action on the Hawaii case in the Supreme Court until then.
The justices were unanimous in deciding against ruling in the Maryland case, although one of the liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor, noted that she would not have wiped out the appeals court ruling. Attorneys in both Trump v. Hawaii and Trump v. IRAP have sought to amend their original complaints (here and here) to challenge the new proclamation, while another group - the Council on American-Islamic Relations - has filed its own challenge.
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