President Trump will be pleased by news that came out of the Supreme Court’s flurry of Monday announcements. That is to say, the nation’s highest court has agreed to hear Trump’s bid to revive his revised travel ban after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate it with a late May ruling. The new ban is much like the old one — it slightly tweaked the visa portions and focused on six Muslim majority countries rather than seven (Trump removed Iraq from the list) — and the Fourth Circuit ruled that the new ban was probably unconstitutional because it discriminated on the basis of religion. SCOTUS will hear formally take up the matter in October, but before that happens, a substantial chunk of the ban will take effect.
On the grounds of protecting national security, Trump had requested an emergency declaration to stay (or postpone the enforcement of) two appeals’ court rulings that blocked the travel ban. The court agreed to do so, although it could decide in October to lift the stay. Here’s the relevant portion of the SCOTUS announcement that allows Trump’s ban to block some travelers:
“We grant the government’s applications to stay the injunctions, to the extent the injunctions prevent enforcement of” Mr. Trump’s executive order “with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
However, the ban won’t apply (until further proceedings) to any non-citizens (such as students and those who recently received job offers) with formal relationships to U.S. entities. This will provide relief for most of the plaintiffs in the cases that will be considered by the Supreme Court, including a Ninth Circuit decision, which held that Trump exceeded his executive authority on the entry of refugees from the listed countries. Both the Fourth and Ninth Circuit’s rulings will be included in the Supreme Court’s October consideration of the ban as a whole.
In the meantime, legal gossip and speculation is swirling over a possible retirement announcement from liberal Justice Anthony Kennedy. Should he choose to turn in the robe, Trump would have plenty of time to select (and have confirmed) a conservative replacement, which would not only sway this travel ban case but many others, including a high-profile religious liberty case (on the baker who refused to prepare a same-sex wedding cake) that the court has also agreed to hear this fall.
UPDATE: Trump has victoriously tweeted about this “9-O decision,” although it’s not clear whether he realizes that this is not a final decision.