The Supreme Court has removed from its calendar a high-profile oral argument about Title 42, which limits migrants’ ability to seek asylum amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With no explanation, the court on Thursday nixed the oral argument scheduled for March 1. The justices were set to consider 19 GOP-led states’ attempt to intervene in the case and maintain the policy, which was first implemented under former President Trump.
The Biden administration, which has had a complex relationship with Title 42, last week filed a brief suggesting the case will become moot once the administration revokes the public health emergency on May 11.
“Absent other relevant developments, the end of the public health emergency will (among other consequences) terminate the Title 42 orders and moot this case,” the Justice Department wrote.
“The government has also recently announced its intent to adopt new Title 8 policies to address the situation at the border once the Title 42 orders end,” it added, referring to the section of the U.S. code that lays out the standard process for removing migrants from the country.
Immigration advocates have lambasted Title 42 for conflicting with American and international laws dealing with the right to asylum, but both the Trump and Biden administrations have embraced it.
In April, the Biden administration moved to revoke Title 42, but the decision quickly came under legal challenges that led lower courts to reinstate the policy.
Since then, the administration has expanded Title 42 for use against Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraugans and Haitians, while also rolling out a program to allow citizens from the countries to apply for permission to enter the country for up to two years.
A federal district court judge late last year ruled the policy was illegal and ordered the administration to wind down its use by last December.
The group of GOP-led states are seeking to intervene in the case so they can defend the policy, and the justices previously stayed the lower ruling while they considered the case, effectively allowing Title 42 to remain in place for now.
As the oral argument approached, Biden late last month announced he would end the public health emergency and national emergency declared in connection with the pandemic.
The administration told the justices that rescinding the emergencies will moot the case, but Republicans have contented the policy requires its own individual termination order.