Once again, a federal court has ruled against the Trump administrationâ€™s temporary ban on admission into the United States of refugees and citizens of six majority-Muslim countries. And once again, the Justice Department is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court - this time arguing that the government should not have to exclude from the ban grandparents or other close family members of people within the United States, along with refugees sponsored by American resettlement organizations, while the case is pending before the court.
Itâ€™s not clear what the Justice Department hopes to gain by appealing this injunction against Trumpâ€™s executive order, as the Supreme Court was already set to hear arguments on the banâ€™s legality on Oct. 10. Whatâ€™s more, a significant portion of the ban will likely have expired by that date - and the rest before the justices can even rule on the case.
Trumpâ€™s order halts entry into the United States by citizens of the six banned countries for 90 days and suspends refugee admissions for 120 days. After courts blocked the ban, Trump clarified that these clocks would begin ticking as soon as the policy was allowed to go into effect. Because the Supreme Court lifted in part the lower-court injunctions against the order on June 26, the refugee ban will expire in late October, and the entry ban at the end of September.
As a matter of law, the Supreme Court canâ€™t rule on a case that no longer presents an ongoing issue. Yet the Justice Department hasnâ€™t given any indication of awareness that the court might well dismiss the case without deciding whether the ban is legal. Not only is the department now battling over an injunction on a policy that likely expires in two weeks, but its opening brief before the Supreme Court didnâ€™t even address the issue.