US top court tosses one of two travel ban challenges

WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out an appeals court ruling that struck down President Donald Trump’s previous temporary travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations countries that has now expired.

In a one-page order, the court acted in one of two cases pending before the nine justices over Trump’s travel ban, a case from Maryland brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to stop the ban contained in a March executive order.

For now, the court did not act on a separate challenge brought by the state of Hawaii, which the court had also agreed to hear. That case also features a challenge to a separate 120-day refugee ban, which has not yet expired.

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Protests against Trump’s proposed travel ban

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People protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder

A man holds an umbrella during a protest of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder

A protester from Amnesty International rallies against U.S. President Donald Trump’s new executive order temporarily banning the entry of refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries in Sydney, Australia, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Demonstrator protests against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

A woman protests against U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder

Chrissy Pearce protests outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse in San Francisco, California February 7, 2017, ahead of the Court hearing arguments regarding President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. REUTERS/Noah Berger

Demonstrators protest against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Demonstrators protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 28: Protestors rally in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street during a protest against the Trump administration’s proposed travel ban and refugee policies, March 28, 2017 in New York City. The Trump administration’s proposed travel ban includes a provision that would bar refugees entry into the United States for 120 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 28: Protestors place photographs of refugees in rafts in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street during a protest against the Trump administration’s proposed travel ban and refugee policies, March 28, 2017 in New York City. The Trump administration’s proposed travel ban includes a provision that would bar refugees entry into the United States for 120 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 16: Demonstrators protest outside the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were protesting the revised travel ban that the administration of President Donald Trump was trying to implement. The ban, which would restrict travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, was supposed to be instituted today but was halted yesterday by a federal judge in Hawaii. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim countries on March 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim countries on March 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 3: Protestors write messages directed toward President Donald Trump on lanterns near the Washington Monument, February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. The protest is aimed at President Trump’s travel ban policy. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Thousands of protesters with banners and placards march through central London during a demonstration against U.S. President Donald Trump on February 4, 2017 in London, England. Thousands of protesters march from the U.S. Embassy in London to Downing Street today against President Trump’s executive order banning immigration to the USA from seven Muslim countries. (Photo by Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 29: Linda Sarsour attends a rally to protest the executive order that President Donald Trump signed clamping down on refugee admissions and temporarily restricting travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries in New York City on January 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 03: Demonstrators protest against US President Donald Trump’s ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US on February 3, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The demonstrators are protesting against United States President Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Rosalie Gurna, 9, holds a sign in support of Muslim family members as people protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslim majority countries, at the International terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

People protest against President Donald Trump’s travel ban in New York City, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Demonstrators participate in a protest by the Yemeni community against U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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That case could yet be dismissed once the refugee ban expires on Oct. 24, meaning the court remains unlikely to issue a final ruling on whether the ban was lawful.

The justices were unanimous in deciding against ruling in the Maryland case, although one of the liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor, noted that she would not have wiped out the appeals court ruling.

The justices had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Tuesday, but removed it from their calendar after Trump’s 90-day ban expired on Sept. 24 and was replaced with a reworked ban.

The expired ban had targeted people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The new open-ended ban, scheduled to take effect on Oct. 18, removed Sudan from the list while blocking people from Chad and North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela from entering the United States.

The Trump administration has urged the court to dismiss both cases while the challengers have asked the justices to rule on the issue.

The Supreme Court in June agreed to take up the two cases and allowed the travel ban, which had been blocked by lower courts, to go into effect with certain changes.

Among the issues raised is whether the travel ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring or disfavoring a particular religion.

The new ban, Trump’s third including one issued in January that was blocked by lower courts, could affect tens of thousands of potential immigrants and visitors to the United States. Opponents have already challenged it in court.

Trump had promised as a candidate “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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