THE SUPREME COURT last week dismissed a suit against the second iteration of President Trump's ban on travel, which targeted six majority-Muslim countries. The ruling signals a quiet end to a potentially explosive case — for now. The legal fight against the travel ban grinds on, with multiple challenges to the newest version of this nonsensical policy working their way through the courts.
By the ban's own terms, its provisions barring entry and immigration into the United States by citizens of certain countries expired in late September. Mr. Trump signed a revised proclamation — the third version of the ban so far — to take its place. While the travel ban's challengers argued that the Supreme Court could still hear their case even after the new order, the court chose instead to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the second ban was no longer in place. The justices also threw out the lower court's ruling that the ban unconstitutionally discriminated against Muslims, though Justice Sonia Sotomayor would have kept the decision in place.
The high court's ruling didn't touch a second case challenging the ban's prohibition on refugee entry into the United States. But when that provision of the second order expires in late October, it's likely that the justices will take the same approach.
This means that the groups fighting Mr. Trump's order will have to begin their battle against the third ban before the district court judges who heard their original complaints, instead of folding their challenge to the new order into the lawsuits already before the Supreme Court. In fact, they're doing so now. And several new suits have been filed as well.
They have a harder argument to make. In part because of the Supreme Court's ruling, the new ban is on stronger legal footing. It's the result — at least on paper — of interagency review, rather than the president's whims. It includes two non-Muslim countries and one country with a significant Christian population. Despite the judiciary's aggression in striking down past iterations of the travel ban, judges may be more hesitant this time to rule against the president, who typically enjoys broad leeway in immigration cases.
This does not make the travel ban any wiser or less cruel. The latest version may be less obviously discriminatory against Muslims, but that doesn't mean that limiting travel from a jumble of countries — including a close counterterrorism partner of the United States — will have any benefit to Americans' safety.
Many rulings against the earlier travel bans moved out well ahead from settled law to swipe at Mr. Trump. On the third round of this legal battle, the lower courts have a chance to consider the president's policy with cooler heads. But whether the Trump administration can successfully defend the revised travel ban in court is a separate question from whether the ban is good policy. That much is clear: It isn't.
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