A group of challengers who succeeded in a lower court on their claim that President Trump acted unconstitutionally in issuing the third version of his plan to block entry into the U.S. of foreign nationals from Muslim-majority nations asked the Supreme Court on Friday to review their case, too.
This group specifically asked the Justices to grant their appeal and then to put it on the same schedule as a separate case, also involving the Trump immigration order, that is now set for a hearing on April 25. (A post appearing below discusses the plan for the April hearing.) The case already accepted for review involves a group of challengers in Hawaii; the new case originated with challengers in Maryland.
The Hawaii case resulted in lower-court rulings that Trump exceeded his powers under federal immigration laws in issuing the entry restrictions; the Maryland case led to lower-court rulings that the President violated the First Amendment ban on religious discrimination. Both of those issues are at the heart of the review the Justices will be making this term.
The new challengers’ group made two points in seeking prompt review of their case: first, that they will be able to make a stronger argument that the Trump order is an unconstitutional form of religious discrimination against Muslims, and, second, that they want to raise an issue that is not present in the Hawaii case – how far the courts should go in restricting presidential power to carry out the Trump order.
While the Supreme Court itself had added the constitutional question to its review of the Hawaii case, even though the lower courts in that case did not rule on it, the only basis for the lower courts’ ruling against the President in the Maryland case was the finding of a constitutional violation. That means, the challengers said, that they would be of more help to the Justices when they consider that question.
In the Maryland case, the lower courts ruled that, even though the Trump order was unconstitutional, the Trump Administration could enforce it against foreign nationals of six Muslim-majority nations who do not now have an existing close relationship with family members in the U.S. or an existing tie to organizations in the U.S. – such as assistance organizations, universities, potential employers, or other entities. The six countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Lebanon.
The assistance organizations involved in the Maryland case said that allowing the government to keep out all others from those nations would apply to perhaps a large number of people who might later establish relationships or develop plans to come to the U.S. for family visits or to work or study.
In their request, they asked the Justices to consider at a March 2 private meeting whether to grant the Maryland case, too, and then once granted to put it on the same schedule for filing legal papers that the Hawaii case is already on. They also asked that it be heard on the same day that the Justices hold a public session for lawyers’ arguments – that is, April 25.
Meanwhile, the Justices took no action on Friday on another immigration issue now before them: a request by the Trump Administration to grant review of the legality of its plan to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). That involves nearly 700,000 younger undocumented immigrants who have been protected for five years from deportation because they are in the country illegally.
The next day for the Justices to act on DACA will be Monday morning, when a list of new orders are issued on pending cases.