Acting with unusual speed, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon told lawyers for the challengers to President Trump’s immigration limits to answer the Administration’s appeal by a week from Monday. That is a strong indication that the Justices will move swiftly, and a sign that they regard the controversy as one with real urgency.
The replies are due by 3 p.m. on June 12 to three moves by the Administration: two requests to allow enforcement of the Trump executive order – one involving a Maryland case, the other a Hawaii case – and a separate appeal seeking full-scale review of the legality of the order as it is at issue in the Maryland case. There is also a suggestion by the government that the court grant full review of the Hawaii case without waiting for a federal appeals court to rule on that one.
The requests for the Justices to block trial judges’ rulings against enforcing the Trump initiative were filed separately with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., for the Maryland case, and with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, for the Hawaii case. (Those assignments were due to the fact that each of the states is located in a federal court region for which those two Justices handle emergency matters/)
The Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy then passed on those applications to the full court without acting on each themselves – another sign of quick handling.
Another sign of the same dispatch came in the order for a response to the government appeal in the Maryland case. Ordinarily, when a petition for review of a lower-court decision reaches the Supreme Court, the other side has 30 days to answer. Here, the court cut that time to ten days.
The fact that the responses on all three of the Administration pleas were put on the same timetable was an indication that the Justices will consider them as a package. They may do so right after the replies have reached the court, or they could be discussed at a regularly scheduled private conference on Thursday of that week—June 15.
Orders to carry out what the court wants to do with all three matters are expected to come out shortly, because the court is in the final weeks of the current term.
(NOTE: This post also appeared today on Constitution Daily, the blog of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.)