Something important is missing from the Supreme Court’s per curiam decision granting the U.S. government’s petition for certiorari in the travel ban case and staying in part the relevant injunctions. Or, rather, someone is missing: Donald Trump.
That’s not to say the order doesn’t mention the president, of course. After all, the case is titled Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, or IRAP for short, and, by necessity, the order references the fact of his presidency and the details of his administration’s actions. But the person of Donald Trump — Trump as an individual, distinct from his official role — is notably absent from both the per curiam ruling and Justice Clarence Thomas’s partial dissent, in which Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined.
This absence contrasts sharply with Trump’s starring role in the opinions of the lower courts, which relied heavily on Trump’s off-the-cuff comments in ruling against the revised executive order. These opinions featured Trump — who is, as he always reminds us, good for ratings — often to the point of including pages of descriptions of Trump’s pre- and post-inauguration statements. The Supreme Court’s decision, on the other hand, does not mention Trump’s comments at all.