Explaining Today's Supreme Court "Decision" On the Travel Ban

This is a follow up to a post I wrote a few months ago regarding the travel ban case--Pres. Trump's executive order that has been challenged in federal court. The Supreme Court issued some orders today but did not decide the case. 

The United States Supreme Court, with few exceptions, hears only the cases it decides to hear. Unlike a direct appeal (to the federal Court of Appeals a.k.a. 'Circuit Court' in a federal case; the Appellate Court in Connecticut cases), there is no appeal of right to the Supreme Court to review an appellate court's decision. One must petition for cert (certiorari) which means to ask the court to hear and decide the lower case. If the Supreme Court denies the cert petition, the lower court decision stands; it is not an affirmation of that decision. It does not bind the law on the entire country.

In the travel ban case, several federal courts granted and (on appeal) affirmed injunctions that blocked Pres. Trump's travel ban executive order. Seeking to reverse those decisions, the administration petitioned for cert. The Supreme Court granted that petition and will hear argument on the case early next term, which starts in October. The Court also weighed in on the temporary status of the ban until it decides the case. 

I explained stays last time. In addition to its cert petition, the government asked the Court to lift the temporary injunction halting the ban, which would mean that the ban would take effect pending the final determination of the case. The Court granted part of that application by staying parts of the order. Essentially the plaintiffs and people similarly situated, those who have real connections to the United States (enrolled in schools, under employment, joining immediate family members, etc.), will not be subject to the ban. Those without those connections will be subject to the Executive Order's provisions. 

Some people and publications may say that the Supreme Court upheld the ban. Others may say that it struck down parts of the ban. It did not do either. It has not decided it yet. Part of the ban is temporarily in effect pending the determination of the case and some of it is not. As Yogi Berra might have said when discussing court cases: it isn't decided until it's decided. 

I don't when I'll be back again writing about this case but tell me that you'll wait for it.



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