The Supreme Court dismissed a major challenge to President Donald Trump's travel ban on residents of some Muslim-majority countries because of its replacement with a newer version.
Opponents of the ban, who had persuaded the two appeals courts to block the executive order, said the court should continue to review the cases.
"Following our established practice in such cases, the judgment is therefore vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit with instructions to dismiss as moot the challenge".
The travel ban on residents of six Muslim-majority countries, including Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, expired September 24, making the International Refugee Assistance Project's case against the ban moot, the court ruled Tuesday.
The Supreme Court did not act in a second pending case filed by the state of Hawaii that challenges restrictions on travel from the six countries as well as restrictions on refugees-which are still in place.
The justices did not say what they will do with another challenge lodged by Hawaii, which came up through the 9th Circuit, and which covered a broader set of objections than the 4th Circuit case. It held that Trump's earlier temporary travel ban order was unconstitutional.
At the same time, lower courts also tried to place strict additional limits on the refugee ban. The court may then also vacate that ruling. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only justice to note her disagreement with this outcome; she would have dismissed the case as improvidently granted. It requested the lower court rulings to be deleted.
The Court is prevented from hearing disputes that are already moot. By putting new versions of his ban in place after old versions expire, Trump may be able to roll the dice over and over again until he finds a version that the Court will deem acceptable.
In some ways it is more expansive than the second executive order it replaced - remaining in effect indefinitely and imposing restrictions on eight, rather than six, countries.
Hawaii is seeking a nationwide order against the ban that removes Sudan from the list of affected countries and adds Chad and North Korea, along with several officials from the government of Venezuela.
The latest travel ban targets five countries included in two previous versions.