WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The US Supreme Court upheld some portions of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban on Monday (June 26), setting the stage for arguments on the case in October. Here are some major questions the case presents:
What did the court decide about Trump's travel ban?
The court did two things: it agreed to evaluate the ban next term, and, in the meantime, the court overturned the decisions of lower courts, saying that Trump's administration could enforce its immigration ban against certain people while it waited for the Supreme Court to hear arguments and decide the case.
Does that mean that the president can block everyone from coming from the six countries he identified as dangerous - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen?
No. The justices agreed with the appeals courts that certain people should be allowed to come to the United States, as long as they have what the court called "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States".
Who would that be?
That is likely to be subject to interpretation and litigation. The court detailed several categories of foreign nationals who should be allowed into the United States: people with a "close familial relationship" to someone in the United States; students admitted to a university in the United States; workers who has accepted an offer of employment from a company in the United States; and lecturers invited to speak to an American audience.
But who qualifies for each of those categories will be up to the administration and individuals denied entry might challenge those decisions in the courts.
Who remains blocked from coming to the United States after the court's ruling?
The court basically said that foreign nationals with no "bona fide relationship" to the United States do not have the same rights and can be barred from entry. The justices wrote that the government's authority to ban entry into the United States for national security reasons were "undoubtedly at their peak when there is no tie between the foreign national and the United States".
What about refugees coming from places like Syria or other war-torn countries?
The court imposed the same rules for refugees as it did for those seeking entry from the six aforementioned countries. Refugees who have some connection to the United States may not be summarily blocked from entry; those who have no connection to the United States may be blocked from entry.
Are there still big questions?
Yes. The definition of a "bona fide relationship" is not clear yet, according to opponents of the ban. For example, if a vacationer has a reservation at a hotel in the United States, does that qualify as a "bona fide relationship"?
That kind of question will not be known for sure until the government blocks people from coming and the cases are taken to the courts.
What about Trump's decision to limit the number of refugees admitted each year to 50,000 people?
The court said that the administration's limit of 50,000 refugees could not be used to arbitrarily restrict entry to a refugee who otherwise had a legitimate connection to the United States.
When does this take effect?
In a June 14 memorandum, Trump said the relevant agencies would wait 72 hours to make any changes if a court gave the government the right to reimpose the ban.
The memorandum said the 72-hour waiting period would "ensure an orderly and proper implementation" of the changes.
That would appear to prevent a repeat of the original travel ban, when travellers got stuck in limbo in airports around the United States.
Is this a win for Trump?
Yes, in part. Trump will be able to say that the Supreme Court slapped down the lower courts for going too far and reaffirmed the president's power to control the nation's borders.
But the court's ruling also underscores the view that Trump was overreaching when he banned all travel into the United States by certain refugees and foreign nationals from six countries.
Had the administration written the original travel ban along the lines of the court's ruling, it might not have encountered such fierce political and legal resistance.
Did all the court's justices agree with their ruling?
No. The ruling was per curiam, meaning that it was the decision of the court, acting collectively as a unit. But three of the court's most conservative members - Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas - offered a dissent, saying they would have allowed the president's travel ban to take effect fully, without regard to a foreign national's connection to the United States.
Is this a final ruling, then?
Not yet. The court's ruling on the travel ban applies only between now and when the justices make a final ruling, which might not come until late fall. The court agreed to hear arguments in the case in its next term, which begins in October. At that time, the court could endorse its current view of the travel ban or it could do something different.