Public Policy Legal Institute: Supreme Court Vacates Problematic Fourth Circuit Opinion Welcoming “Restraint” of Candidate Speech
PPLI and the Center for Competitive Politics had filed “friend of the court” briefs in the Supreme Court in Trump v. Int’l Refugee Assistance Project, No. 16-1436. That case, commonly referred to as the “travel ban” cases, considered the President’s power to block certain aliens from entering the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had blocked the Executive Order that imposed the ban, but did so by referring to candidate Donald Trump’s campaign statements. Unfortunately, the Fourth Circuit said:
“To the extent that our review chills campaign promises to condemn and exclude entire religious groups, we think that a welcome restraint.” Int’l Refugee Assistance Project, et al. v. Trump, et al., 857 F.3d 554, 600 (4th Cir. 2017), slip op. 68.
This “welcome restraint” doctrine conflicts with settled Supreme Court decisions protecting free speech on the campaign trail…
The two PPLI/CCP briefs first asked the Court to review the case, by granting certiorari, then, without taking a position on the merits, asked the Court to protect the First Amendment rights of candidates and those who want to hear their true opinions, by “vacating” (eliminating) the troublesome Fourth Circuit opinion.