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The Facts —
- The Supreme Court dismissed Hawaii’s challenge to President Trump’s 120-day refugee ban because the effects of the order had expired. The high court ordered the case to return to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals with instructions to dismiss the case.
- The Supreme Court typically does not hear cases in which the controversy is no longer active. The effects of Trump’s executive order expired on Tuesday, so the high court deemed the case moot.
“Following our established practice in such cases, the judgment is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to dismiss as moot the challenge to Executive Order No. 13,780.”
- Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision.
- By dismissing the case, the Supreme Court does not make a ruling on the Trump administration’s appeal of the lower court decision. The Supreme Court order states that it will no longer hear the case because it “no longer presents a ‘live case or controversy.’”
The Context —
- President Trump issued Executive Order 13,780 on 6 March, and it was set to take effect on 16 March.
- EO 13,780 ordered the State department to “suspend travel of refugees into the United States… for 120 days after the effective date of this order.”
- Additionally, it “suspended for 90 days the entry of certain aliens from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.”
- Hawaii challenged the administration’s directive to suspend refugee admissions.
- On 15 March, Judge Derrick Watson of the US District Court of Hawaii put an emergency stop to the executive order, so it did not go into effect.
“Because a reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”
- The Trump administration appealed Watson’s decision and the Supreme Court upheld parts of the Executive Order on 26 June.
- The 120-day ban on refugees ended on Tuesday, thus leading the high court to deem that there was no longer “live case or controversy.”
- The 90-day ban of entry of aliens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen expired on 24 September.
- On 10 October, the Supreme Court dismissed a case against this provision on the grounds of mootness.
- The unsigned order read:
“Because that provision of the Order ‘expired by its own terms’ on September 24, 2017, the appeal no longer presents a ‘live case or controversy.’”
Latest Travel Ban and Judicial Action —
- On 24 September (the day the previous ban expired), President Trump signed an executive order instituting a new travel ban:
“I have determined to restrict and limit the entry of nationals of 7 countries found to be “inadequate” with respect to the baseline described in subsection (c) of this section: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. These restrictions distinguish between the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants. Persons admitted on immigrant visas become lawful permanent residents of the United States. Such persons may present national security or public-safety concerns that may be distinct from those admitted as nonimmigrants. The United States affords lawful permanent residents more enduring rights than it does to nonimmigrants.” “entry restrictions and limitations are recommended [for entrants from] Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.”
- On 17 October, Judge Watson blocked Trump’s executive order from going into effect. He wrote that it “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries.” The challenge in the case did not include a petition with respect to North Korea.
- Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Justice Department, told CNN that the DOJ will appeal Watson’s latest decision “in an expeditious manner.” He added:
“Today’s ruling is incorrect, fails to properly respect the separation of powers, and has the potential to cause serious negative consequences for our national security.”
- The appeals process could take the latest case to the Supreme Court if the high court decides to review the case (known as granting a writ of certiorari).
William Spruance contributed to this report.