The Supreme Court has postponed for now a hearing on President Donald Trump’s power to ban immigrants from certain countries while it considers whether a new order issued Sunday night makes the case moot.
In an order issued Monday, the justices asked for new briefs about whether the third rendition of the travel ban means there is nothing left for the court to decide.
The briefs are due Oct. 5 and the court said for now it is removing from its oral argument calendar a hearing scheduled for Oct. 10.
The Trump administration announced new restrictions on visitors from eight countries – an expansion of an existing travel ban that has spurred fierce legal debates over security, immigration and discrimination.
The move came on the day the key portion of Trump’s travel ban, one that bars the issuance of visas to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries, was due to expire.
“As president, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Trump wrote Sunday in a proclamation announcing the changes for citizens from specific nations. On Twitter, he added: “Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.”
Trump’s original travel ban, signed as an executive order in the first days of his presidency, was always meant to be a temporary measure while his administration crafted more permanent rules. A senior administration official cautioned that the new restrictions are not meant to last forever, but are “necessary and conditions-based, not time-based.”
Three nations were added to the list of countries whose citizens will face the restrictions: Chad, North Korea and Venezuela – although the restrictions on Venezuela are narrowly crafted, targeting that country’s leaders and their family members.
One country, Sudan, fell off the travel ban list issued at the beginning of the year. Senior administration officials said a review of Sudan’s cooperation with the U.S. government on national security and information-sharing showed it was appropriate to remove it from the list.
The new restrictions will be phased in over time, officials said, and the restrictions will not affect anyone who already holds a U.S. visa. For those visitors affected by the changed restrictions, the new rules will go into effect Oct. 18, according to the proclamation.
Both of Trump’s orders have been blocked by judges, but the Supreme Court in June allowed it to go into effect with a significant caveat. The administration, the court said, could not block from entering the country those with a “bona fide” connection to the United States, such as family members or those with firm offers of employment.
The ban on citizens of the six countries was to last 90 days; the ban on refugees was to last 120 days. The refugee ban is set to expire Oct. 24, and it was not immediately clear what impact the new restrictions might have on it.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Robert Barnes, Devlin Barrett