The Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments on President Trump's travel ban affecting citizens of six mostly Muslim countries and will be argued in October.
The high court also lifted most of the injunction blocking the president's travel ban, allowing it to take effect in most instances
The country had been waiting for the court to make its decision public about the biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Mr. Trump's presidency. The Supreme Court usually saves its most important decisions for the final day of the term. The issue has been tied up in the courts since his original order in January sparked confusion and widespread protests just days after he took office.
The justices met Thursday morning for their last regularly scheduled private conference in June and probably took a vote then about whether to let the Trump administration immediately enforce the ban and hear the administration's appeal of lower court rulings blocking the ban.
The court had to decide before late this week, after which the justices will scatter for the summer for speeches, teaching gigs and vacations.
It would have taken five votes to reinstate the ban, but it only took four to set the case for argument. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump's nominee who was confirmed in April, is taking part in the highest-profile issue yet in his three months on the court.
The case is at the Supreme Court because two federal appellate courts have ruled against the Trump travel policy, which would impose a 90-day pause in travel from citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was "rooted in religious animus" toward Muslims and pointed to Mr. Trump's campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president. The ban "stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation," the chief judge of the circuit, Roger L. Gregory wrote.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination. That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends Sept. 30.
The White House has asked the Supreme Court to allow it to start enforcing this policy and hear arguments about in the fall. The administration believes the Supreme Court is its best hope of having this policy upheld after the two appeals courts blocked it.
President Trump's first executive order on travel applied to travelers from the six countries as well as Iraq, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out who the order covered and how it was to be implemented.
A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.
In March, the president issued a narrower order, but it too has been blocked.
The government has argued that the ban was needed to allow for an internal review of the screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries.
This is a developing story and will be updated.