The Supreme Court stayed a lower court order Tuesday ending the Trump-era Title 42 health policy — setting up a complex legal battle that could take several months to resolve. 

The court’s unsigned order extended a stay put in place by Chief Justice John Roberts last week and ordered time carved out this spring to hear the case brought by 19 Republican-led states. 

The issue that will come before the high court is a technical one: Whether the states had the right to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations against the Biden administration on behalf of migrants.

Migrants rush along the banks of the Rio Grande.
Migrants rush along the banks of the Rio Grande.
AP
There has been an extreme surge in border crossings in recent months.
Nineteen Republican-led states had challenged an order by a DC federal court judge that the policy be wound up by Dec. 21.
AP

In response to that lawsuit, Senior US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Title 42 — which allows the summary expulsion of migrants on public health grounds without first hearing their asylum claims — ended on Dec. 21. 

The states argue that they should be able to step in on the ground that the Biden administration has abandoned its defense of the policy. In a filing last week, the Justice Department argued that the policy had “outlived its public-health justification.”

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