By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It is looking increasingly likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Trump administration appeals involving the “Dreamers” immigrants, transgender troops and gay rights during its current term, meaning rulings in these major cases may not come until next year.
With time running out for the justices to take cases to decide in their current term that ends in June, they took no action on Friday in those high-profile appeals. If they eventually agree to hear the cases but not until the nine-month term that begins in October, chances of rulings being issued this year are slim, a blow to President Donald Trump.
Under the court’s normal procedure, Friday was the last day the court would add new cases to be decided in its current term. The last arguments of the term typically are held in April. The court could next act on whether to hear pending appeals on Tuesday.
The administration in several big cases has tried to get appeals to the Supreme Court as quickly as possible, putting its faith in a bench with two Trump appointees and a 5-4 conservative majority.
Appeals remain pending before the court on Republican Trump’s 2017 move, blocked by lower courts, to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.
DACA protects about 700,000 immigrants, often called “Dreamers” based on the name of legislation that failed to pass Congress, from deportation and provides them work permits, though not a path to citizenship. Most of the “Dreamers” are Hispanic young adults.
With the lower courts ruling against the administration and the high court not yet taking action, DACA remains in place.
The justices also have not acted on whether to hear Trump’s bid to revive his restrictions on transgender troops in the military, also blocked by lower courts, and three related cases on whether gay and transgender people are protected under a federal law that bars sex discrimination in the workplace.
The employment cases focus on whether gay and transgender people are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, colour, national origin and religion.
The court on Friday cancelled arguments that had been scheduled for next month in the administration’s appeal relating to its contentious move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census.
The administration had challenged the scope of evidence that U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan could use in considering his decision in a lawsuit filed by 18 U.S. states, 15 cities and various civil rights groups challenging the legality of the citizenship question.
The justices disclosed the cancellation of the Feb. 19 arguments in a notation on the court docket a day after the challengers, including New York state, filed court papers calling the administration’s appeal moot because Furman issued his final decision this week invalidating the census question.
The Justice Department on Thursday said it would appeal Furman’s ruling and it could seek to fast-track the case to the Supreme Court, but by Friday had not yet filed anything with the justices.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)