“Supreme Court Cancels Hearing on Previous Trump Travel Ban”

9/26/2017
The New York Times


“The Supreme Court on Monday [September 25] abruptly canceled oral arguments on President Trump’s travel ban, signaling the beginning of the end for a politically charged legal case that could have produced a blockbuster ruling on the clash between presidential power and claims of religious discrimination.

“A new, broader ban on travel prompted the unusual move by the justices, leaving Mr. Trump to face scrutiny on a policy that in some ways goes even further — indefinitely banning most travel to the United States from seven countries and imposing restrictions on two others.

“But the president’s third attempt at controlling the border may finally stand up to the expected wave of new legal challenges. The new ban includes two countries that are not majority Muslim, which may insulate him from charges that his actions are based on religious discrimination.

“And the new ban was developed after a vigorous security review that administration officials said provided a legally unassailable rationale for the travel restrictions…But after the president’s announcement over the weekend, the justices now appear likely to declare the case moot.

“That would allow Mr. Trump to avoid a definitive ruling on whether he had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom and exceeded his statutory authority to control the country’s borders, as civil rights lawyers argued. 

“…[D]espite a less chaotic rollout, questions remain about how the travel ban will be put in place, who will be affected, how the countries were picked and whether it will work to prevent terrorist attacks.

“…The Department of Homeland Security said the countries covered under the presidential proclamation were chosen because they could not properly establish the identity of people seeking to travel from those countries to the United States. 

“…Administration officials said countries on the banned-travel list failed to meet what they called ‘objective criteria.’ They will be subject to the travel ban until they can demonstrate their ability to deliver the information requested by the United States, officials said.

“…While counterterrorism experts say improvements to the government’s vetting capabilities are necessary, they say the new restrictions may be far too broad because they focus on countries and not individuals.

“…Like his first travel bans, the president’s latest restriction mostly targets predominantly Muslim countries. But officials note that two non-Muslim countries — North Korea and Venezuela — are on the list this time. They say that should be proof that the latest ban was not designed to target one religion.

“…By canceling the arguments for now, the court indicated that it may never decide the case. ‘The cases are removed from the oral argument calendar, pending further order of the court,’ the court said.

“If the court does eventually dismiss the case as moot, a further legal question will remain. The Trump administration will ask the court to vacate the appeals court decisions striking down the earlier ban, while the challengers will ask that the decisions remain on the books.

“…The new travel ban takes effect Oct. 18, though citizens of countries included in the earlier orders will remain banned from entry until the new one takes over. Unlike the chaotic rollout of the president’s first executive order, the latest travel restrictions have clear exceptions for people who already have permission to enter the United States, so there should be few instances of people being detained at airports or consulates.

“As for students, it depends. Citizens of some of the affected countries are completely banned from coming to the United States. Those include Syria and North Korea. Students from the other countries may still travel to the United States to study, assuming they can meet the normal requirements for a student visa and pass security screenings.”

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