Donald Trump’s administration is pledging a Supreme Court showdown over his travel ban after a federal appeals ruled that the ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”
Citing the president’s duty to protect the country from terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that the Justice Department will ask the high court to review the case, although he offered no timetable.
The Supreme Court is almost certain to step into the case over the presidential executive order issued by Trump that seeks to temporarily cut off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The justices almost always have the final say when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.
The case pits the president’s significant authority over immigration against what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said was a policy that purported to be about national security but was intended to target Muslims.
Parties generally have 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, but if the administration waits until late August to ask the court to step in, the justices probably would not vote on whether to hear the case until October and arguments probably wouldn’t take place until February 2018 at the earliest. That would be more than a year after Trump rolled out the first travel ban.
Administration lawyers could instead seek the justices’ approval to put the travel policy in place on an emergency basis, even as the court weighs what to do with the larger dispute.
If that happens, the justices’ vote on an emergency motion would signal whether the government is likely to win in the end. It takes a majority of the court, five votes, to put a hold on a lower court ruling. If at least five justices vote to let the travel ban take effect, there’s a good chance they also would uphold the policy later on.
Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was a loss for the administration. The court ruled…