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After Trump's Travel Ban Reaches the Supreme Court, What's Next?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 02, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After being rebuffed by several courts that blocked his travel bans, President Trump may finally see his opponents in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump's lawyers filed a request for emergency relief in the High Court, saying it is a matter of national security. Justice Neil Gorsuch, newly appointed and the potential fifth conservative vote on the court, will have an opportunity to tip the scale in his favor.

But it is too early to tell how the court will handle the request. Observers say the court will likely agree to hear the case, but probably not rule on the travel ban until after a hearing in the fall.

"See You in Court"

"See you in court," the president famously tweeted after a federal judge issued an injunction against his first executive order, but the president abandoned his appeal and instead issued a second version. The second executive order is at issue in the pending case.

Trump is asking the Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump. In the case, the appeals court affirmed a federal judge's issuance of a nationwide preliminary injunction against the controversial executive order.

"Congress granted the President with broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute," Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote for the divided court. "It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across the nation."

Campaign Statements

During arguments, the president's lawyers urged the court to look only at the text of the executive order and not at Trump's campaign statements. The executive order does not ban Muslims, only nationals from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

However, the Fourth Circuit majority said Trump made it clear in his campaign for the White House that he would target Muslims. The court cited his "Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration," which proposed a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representative can figure out what is going on."

The Supreme Court typically takes its summer recess at the end of June, but is expected to issue an order on the emergency request before then. It could stay the injunction, which would reinstate the travel ban immediately.

However, it is more likely that the court will set a hearing for October. By then, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also may have weighed in on the issue in a separate case.

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