The Supreme Court wiped clean the slate of legal challenges against President Trump’s travel ban on six Middle Eastern countries this week, determining that there was no reason to move forward on the case since the ban has since expired. The moratorium, which was replaced by an updated travel ban at the end of September, had resulted in lawsuits originating from Hawaii and Maryland and court decisions against the federal government in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court lifted a stay on the ban this summer, allowing it to be restored for the remainder of its scheduled purpose.
The decision is perhaps not the definitive ruling on executive authority that many of Trump’s supporters would have liked, but it is nonetheless a major win for the Trump administration and anyone else who wants to see a coherent, smart immigration policy. The administration had previously asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case after it updated the travel ban on September 24. By complying with that request, the high court kicked the challenges back to the states, which have already begun mounting the lawsuits anew. This is a decision that may have to be put before the Supreme Court sooner or later, but it won’t be on the fall slate.
“We express no view on the merits” of the travel ban, wrote the justices in their one-page dismissal.
Another case against the travel ban, having been ruled on by a San Francisco-based federal appeals court, remains on the Supreme Court’s docket for now. Because that case involves the refugee suspension – which will not expire until later this month – the court could not dismiss the challenge using the same reasoning as the first one. However, legal analysts expect that case to meet the same fate once the original refugee ban comes to an end.
This leaves us without a major ruling on the central premise of the arguments – that President Trump violated the First Amendment’s religious freedom clause by targeting Muslims with the executive order. However, with states and entities like the ACLU mounting new cases against the updated ban, there is still a chance that we’ll get the landmark decision many expected this fall.
It is important that we do, because this goes beyond the actions of the Trump administration and into the larger questions of executive power. Liberal activists in the courts have used specious reasoning to rule against the administration, clearly more reliant on their own feelings about Donald Trump than on the Constitution. If these cases are not resolved directly, it will only embolden blue state liberals to continue chipping away at the president’s rightful authority every time he does something they don’t like.