The US Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday affirmed in part [order, PDF] a ruling by the US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] concerning the scope of the Trump administration’s travel ban. The state of Hawaii filed a brief [PDF] on Tuesday in response to the government’s request that the US Supreme Court clarify who can enter the US while the order is in place. Earlier this month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Hawaii expanded [JURIST report] the exemptions permitted under the temporary travel bar on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Although he refused to define the Supreme Court’s ruling, Judge Derrick Watson agreed to review the government’s interpretation and after doing so widened the definition of “close family members” to include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and brothers-and-sisters-in-law. Additionally, Watson stated that refugees with an assurance from a US resettlement agency meet the Supreme Court’s requirements because it is a formal, documented contract that places obligations upon a specific individual who has been approved for entry by the Department of Homeland Security [official website]. The government responded by petitioning the Supreme Court for emergency relief and sought to obtain an expansion of the stay the Court ordered [JURIST report] on the grounds that the District Court’s modification “eviscerated” the ruling. Hawaii stated that the government’s claim is “nonsense” and that
the District Court faithfully applied this Court’s opinion, holding that “close relatives” like grandparents and nieces are permitted to enter, and recognizing that the charities, non-profits, and churches that have made a formal, contractual commitment to shelter and clothe refugees would suffer “concrete hardship” if those refugees are excluded.
The government responded [SCOTUSBlog post] with the assertion that the Supreme Court is the only court that can properly interpret its own order. The Supreme Court lifted [CNN report] the exemption judge Watson ordered for refugees but allowed the application to exclude grandparents and other relatives from the ban. The Court also directed that further review of the issue should be directed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website].
Cases concerning issues of immigration from predominantly Muslim countries continue to be processed in the federal judiciary. In June the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] denied in part [JURIST report] and granted in part a motion to dismiss a class action suit filed against President Donald Trump and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) [official website]. Also in June the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the deportation of more than 100 Iraq nationals, arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] agents, to determine whether it has jurisdiction in the matter. Earlier that same month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against [JURIST report; case materials] the majority of Trump’s revised executive order limiting travel from six Muslim-majority countries. That ruling affirmed [JURIST report] the majority of a district court injunction in March that blocked the order from being enforced. In May a federal district court in Washington granted a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] to allow legal aid groups to continue to provide certain kinds of assistance to undocumented immigrants. Five days prior a Michigan federal district court ordered [JURIST report] the Trump administration to disclose the draft of the so-called “Muslim ban” executive order.