SCOTUS backs Trump on travel ban challenge, and it has a message for the 4th Circuit …

DCNFKevin Daley, DCNF

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s travel ban late Tuesday, concluding that the ban’s expiration in September effectively ended the controversy.

The development is a partial victory for the administration, which urged the high court to dismiss the case after the ban expired Sept. 24. Per the terms of the order, a ban on migrant entry from six countries with high instances of terror was applied for a 90-day period.

In an order issued just after 7:30 p.m., the justices remanded the case to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Richmond-based appeals court which upheld an injunction staying the ban’s enforcement. The justices ordered the court to dismiss the case as moot, and directed the 4th Circuit to vacate — or wipe out — its ruling finding the order unlawful.

A legal rule called the Munsingwear doctrine requires the vacatur of all lower court rulings in a case that is mooted while awaiting Supreme Court review, with several exceptions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the Court’s vacatur order, but agreed that the challenge should be dismissed.

The 4th Circuit’s decision said that the ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

The justices removed the case from their calendar in late September, after scheduling it for oral arguments Oct. 10 during the summer.

The justices did not dismiss a second travel ban challenge brought by Hawaii. Where the case arising from the 4th Circuit concerned only the 90-day travel ban, the Hawaii case also challenges the 120-day ban on refugee resettlement, which will not expire until later this year. Tuesday’s order strongly suggests that the justices will dismiss the Hawaii case once the refugee resettlement provision terminates.

In each case, the challengers argue Trump’s order exceeds his authority under federal immigration law. They further say the order is unconstitutional, claiming in targets Muslims for disparate treatment.

The travel ban was replaced by another proclamation is late September, assessing travel sanctions against eight countries that fail to comply with U.S. security standards. Legal challenges to the September proclamation could reach the high court in the coming months.

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