Trump administration challenges travel ban ruling in Supreme Court

A Hawaii court added grandparents, brothers- and sisters-in-law, cousins, nephews and nieces, and uncles and aunts to the exempted list, and cleared for entry refugees already working with a resettlement agency in the US.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2017 21:24 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump administration,US Supreme Court,Hawaii court
Travellers arrive at the Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, after a Hawaii court, in a ruling, weakened Donald Trump’s travel ban.(Reuters)

The Donald Trump administration has gone to the US Supreme Court against the ruling of a federal court in Hawaii that substantially expanded the list of those exempted from a temporary ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.

The Hawaii court added grandparents, brothers- and sisters-in-law, cousins, nephews and nieces, and uncles and aunts to the exempted list, and cleared for entry refugees already working with a resettlement agency in the US.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the justice department on Friday said the Hawaii court order “empties the court’s decision of meaning, as it encompasses not just ‘close’ family members, but virtually all family members”.

“Treating all of these relationships as ‘close familial relationship(s)’ reads the term ‘close’ out of the Court’s decision,” the department said, referring to a June 26 order of the Supreme Court which had allowed a partial implementation of the travel ban after exempting visitors claiming “bona fide” and “close familial relationship” with US residents.

The court had left it to the administration to define these relationships and it came up with a list considered very narrow — it included parents, children, siblings, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, fiancés and stepchildren.

Hawaii challenged that definition, leading to the recent order, which was expected to be opposed by the administration and it did with some urgency, skipping the courts of appeal and challenging it directly in the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Friday, attorney general Jeff Sessions slammed the Hawaii court, saying, “A single federal district court has undertaken by a nationwide injunction to micromanage decisions of the co-equal Executive Branch related to our national security.

“The district court has issued decisions that are entrusted to the Executive Branch, undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers.”

A temporary travel ban was first ordered by President Donald Trump in January and it was to apply to visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan — and all refugees.

The rollout caused international outrage and confusion and was mired almost immediately in protests and legal challenges, which eventually led its stay. The administration returned with a narrower ban, that excluded Iraq, with more changes.

The second order was met with similar legal challenges, but the Supreme Court allowed its partial rollout, exempting anyone who had “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”.

First Published: Jul 15, 2017 21:24 IST