The U.S. Supreme Court removed the travel ban case from its October oral arguments calendar Monday, after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation implementing new travel restrictions.
Trump’s issued his proclamation Sunday, hours before his original executive order on refugees and migrants was set to expire. The directive severely restricts travel from eight countries, including Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.
The justices were originally scheduled to hear the case Oct. 10. Monday’s order cancels the oral argument and orders the parties in the case — the U.S. government and a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general and civil rights groups — to submit new briefs as to whether the original travel ban case is now “moot.” It does not dismiss the case altogether.
Federal courts are only empowered to hear ongoing controversies, where their intervention will make some difference to the case. A case is rendered “moot” when events render further action on the court’s part meaningless. Two “mootness” issues could exist here. The travel ban’s expiration late Sunday night may have mooted the case. The promulgation of a new proclamation to replace the old order may also have mooted the case. The Supreme Court’s order asks each party to address the issue.
The briefs on this question are due Oct. 5. At that point, the justices could allow the case to proceed or dismiss it altogether. Should the Court dismiss the case, another round of litigation relating to the Sunday proclamation is sure to follow, which itself could eventually reach the justices. If the case is dismissed, the Court may also vacate several lower court rulings against the administration.
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