President Donald Trump once told opponents of his travel ban that he’d see them in court, and he’s doing everything he can to keep that promise.
On Wednesday, Trump issued a presidential memorandum clarifying the expiration date of his revamped travel ban, which would have stopped nationals from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and paused the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. Because he issued the ban back in March, those 90 days are up this week. Though the ban never took effect, thanks to nationwide injunctions issued in Hawaii and Maryland, opponents have argued that the cases over the ban will become moot when the term expires.
If they became moot, courts have no longer have a need to rule on it, ensuring the current injunctions will remain in place. Of course, the Trump administration, which has appealed the case up to the U.S. Supreme Court, does not want that to happen.
Pointing to the fact that order technically states the ban would last “for 90 days from the effective date of this order,” Justice Department lawyers are arguing that the 90-day clock has yet to even start, since Trump’s order never took effect. Trump’s Wednesday memo, written “in light of questions in litigation about the effective date of the enjoined provisions and in the interest of clarity,” lends the Justice Department’s interpretation credibility.
Now, thanks to Trump’s revision, the travel ban would start 72 hours after the injunctions on it are lifted — ensuring that the issue will remain alive and well, if and when the Supreme Court ever decides to hear the case.