The Supreme Court on Monday abruptly canceled oral arguments on President Trump’s travel ban, signaling the beginning of the end for a politically charged legal case that could have produced a blockbuster ruling on the clash between presidential power and claims of religious discrimination.
A new, broader ban on travel prompted the unusual move by the justices, leaving Mr. Trump to face scrutiny on a policy that in some ways goes even further — indefinitely banning most travel to the United States from seven countries and imposing restrictions on two others.
But the president’s third attempt at controlling the border may finally stand up to the expected wave of new legal challenges. The new ban includes two countries that are not majority Muslim, which may insulate him from charges that his actions are based on religious discrimination.
And the new ban was developed after a vigorous security review that administration officials said provided a legally unassailable rationale for the travel restrictions. The court was set to hear the challenge to Mr. Trump’s travel ban in two weeks. But after the president’s announcement over the weekend, the justices now appear likely to declare the case moot.
That would allow Mr. Trump to avoid a definitive ruling on whether he had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom and exceeded his statutory authority to control the country’s borders, as civil rights lawyers argued. With lower courts having ruled against him, Mr. Trump was pinning his hopes for political vindication on an ideologically divided Supreme Court.
Critics say Travel Ban 3.0 is still little more than a dressed-up Muslim ban. And despite a less chaotic rollout, questions remain about how the travel ban will be put in place, who will be affected, how the countries were picked and whether it will work to prevent terrorist attacks.