Trump’s largely symbolic and completely pointless “executive order” banning travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries has run into numerous barriers since the first version was signed back in January. Travel Ban 2.0 – which differed little from the initial version – was blocked by federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii. Those injunctions were appealed to the 4th and the 9th Courts of Appeals, which upheld the lower courts’ rulings. Trump threatened to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court – and this week, it came up on the docket.
So what happens now?
That is an excellent question, being as the SCOTUS is preparing to go on recess come Monday. Today, the nine justices will take the initial step, which is to decide how to proceed on this case.
There are a number of different things that could happen; the Court could summarily overturn the lower courts’ rulings, banning residents of the six Muslin countries on the list for three months and blocking the entry of virtually all refugees for four months. Although this would have absolutely no effect on Americans’ safety, such a decision would give Trump exactly what he wants – and since the SCOTUS is now stacked in favor of the right wing for the next 30-40 years, that is a distinct possibility.
However, it’s not a foregone conclusion. The justices may decide remain in session this summer in order to hear the case and make a ruling – or they could put it off until they return in October. The last alternative, which would be Trump’s worst nightmare, would be to simply refuse to hear the case – meaning the lower courts’ rulings would stand.
This puts Trump in a difficult position. On one hand, like the spoiled man-child he is, Donald wants what he wants and he wants it NOW. He has reason. Chances are that the longer the injunction against his travel ban is allowed to stand, the weaker the arguments will be for allowing it in the first place. This could be a serious problem if the Administration is unable review the Immigration Department’s vetting process for visas – which was the whole basis of the ban in the first place.
What will happen in today’s closed-door meeting is anyone’s guess. It is possible that the SCOTUS could simply allow the travel ban to go into “temporary” effect for the summer (which is exactly what Trump is hoping for), then hear the case when the justices return in the fall. That would take a 5-4 majority, and given the current makeup of the SCOTUS, it could very well happen.
One thing is certain: however the justices decide to proceed today, the SCOTUS will have to deal with the issue one way or another – whether it’s this week or in October.