WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court dismissed a major challenge to President Trump’s travel ban on majority-Muslim countries Tuesday because it has been replaced by a new version, sending the controversy back to the starting block.
The ruling is a victory for the Trump administration, which had asked the court to drop the case after Trump signed a proclamation Sept. 24 that replaced the temporary travel ban on six nations with a new, indefinite ban affecting eight countries. That action made the court challenge moot, the justices ruled.
“We express no view on the merits,” the justices said in a one-page order.
The decision effectively wipes the record clean in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, one of two federal appeals courts that had struck down major portions of Trump’s travel ban. That case began in Maryland.
A separate case from the 9th Circuit, based in California, remains pending because it includes a ban on refugees worldwide that won’t expire until later this month. But the Supreme Court is likely to ditch that case, which began in Hawaii, as well.
The challengers in both cases already have renewed their lawsuits in the lower courts, starting the legal process anew. In Maryland, a federal district court has scheduled a new hearing for next week.
But the new travel ban and the Supreme Court’s order vacating the 4th Circuit appeals court judgment puts the administration in a somewhat stronger position, at least for now.