Written by Don Byrd

The U.S. Supreme Court canceled the scheduled arguments regarding claims against President Trump’s controversial travel ban, after the administration released a new proclamation creating a different system and set of travel restrictions on Sunday night. The Court has asked lawyers to submit briefs on October 5 as to whether the proclamation makes the case moot.

Justices were set to hear arguments about, among other things, whether the President’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries violated the Constitution’s religious freedom guarantees by targeting Muslim immigrants, as some lower courts and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled. The new proclamation addresses eight countries, restricting travel from seven countries to the U.S. (Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea) and restricting travel to the U.S. for certain government officials from Venezuela and their families. This article from CNN has a chart showing the different levels of restriction. Sudan was dropped from the earlier ban’s list and Chad was added, along with two countries that do not have a Muslim majority: North Korea and Venezuela.

In response, Baptist Joint Committee Executive Director Amanda Tyler said the following: 

The particular details of this new proclamation will determine whether the Court hears and decides the case currently before it. Regardless of that legal outcome, the BJC will continue to denounce any government action that uses a person’s faith as a reason for exclusion or any policy rooted in anti-Muslim animus.

The BJC joined an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the travel ban case, offered by an interfaith coalition of individuals and organizations. The brief argues that President Trump’s Executive Order “selectively burdens Muslim-majority countries while exempting comparable Christian-majority countries” in violation of the Establishment Clause. 

Whether the Supreme Court will now declare that case moot in light of the new proclamation remains to be seen, though some experts seem to think that is likely, according to a New York Times report and a Reuters article. The new travel ban goes into effect October 18.