The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to President Donald Trump on his embattled travel ban today, rejecting his bid to bar entry by some people with family members already in the country.
The 6-3 order by the justices — who last month let the president start restricting entry by people from six mostly Muslim countries — means the government must accept people with grandparents, cousins and other relatives in the U.S.
State Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Today the United States Supreme Court denied the Trump Administration’s motion to clarify. They confirmed the Hawaii federal court order that grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins are indeed close family.”
“This confirms we were right to say that the Trump Administration over-reached in trying to unilaterally keep families apart from each other, in violation of the Supreme Court’s prior ruling. The Supreme Court did stay Judge Watson’s order with respect to refugees covered by a formal assurance, pending resolution by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We are currently preparing our arguments for the Ninth Circuit to resolve that issue,” Chin said in an e-mailed statement.
The order gave Trump a partial win on a separate issue, temporarily blocking a lower court ruling that would have opened the way for potentially thousands of refugees to enter the country in the coming months. That portion of the Supreme Court order applies while the administration appeals on that issue to a federal appellate court in San Francisco.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the travel ban in October.
The justices on June 26 let the government enforce a limited travel ban, saying the U.S. had to admit at least some close relatives though the court didn’t list all the relationships that qualified. The Trump administration then agreed to let people enter if they had a parent, spouse, fiance, child, sibling, son- or daughter-in-law, or a parent-in-law in the country.
But the government contended it could still exclude people whose closest relatives in the U.S. are grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, or siblings-in-law.
A federal trial judge in Hawaii said the administration’s standard was too restrictive and couldn’t be squared with the Supreme Court decision. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson also said the government couldn’t exclude refugees once a resettlement agency had promised that it would provide basic services for them.
Trump asked the Supreme Court to clarify its June 26 decision, contending that Watson disobeyed it.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented from today’s action, saying they would have blocked Watson’s entire ruling.
Trump’s March 6 executive order said the 90-day travel ban and 120-day refugee ban would give officials time to assess U.S. vetting procedures and would address an “unacceptably high” risk that terrorists could slip into the country. Lower courts had blocked the ban, saying Trump overstepped his authority and unconstitutionally targeted Muslims.
The case is Trump v. Hawaii, 16-1540.