In a huge courtroom victory for the Trump administration, a federal judge has refused a request by the state of Hawaii to narrow President Trump’s travel restrictions on six countries. And a federal appeals court notoriously hostile to the White House has supported the decision.
The state was looking to clarify what groups of individuals would be prohibited from traveling to the United States under the ban. When the Supreme Court let the restrictions go forward last month, the justices did so under the condition that anyone with a “bona fide relationship” with an American person or entity must be allowed to enter, Reuters reported.
Under the revised ban, parents, children, fiancees, spouses and siblings could travel to the United States. However, according to The Associated Press, the state of Hawaii asserted that the Trump administration’s omission of grandparents of U.S. persons from exemption was a “preposterous contention.”
The Trump administration countered by arguing close family relationships are defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the legislation that gives the president the authority to restrict entry into the United States.
On Thursday, Honolulu U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson rejected Hawaii’s claim, siding with the Trump administration’s definition of close family relationships.
“Because Plaintiffs seek clarification of the June 26, 2017, injunction modifications authored by the Supreme Court, clarification should be sought there, not here,” Watson’s ruling read, according to NBC News.
An appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — normally a liberal bastion of the judiciary — didn’t yield much better results for the challengers. On Friday, a three-judge panel ruled it did not have the jurisdiction to hear an appeal from the state, noting that the Honolulu judge could only rule on whether the Supreme Court’s strictures had been misapplied to a specific person, not offer clarifications on the ruling.
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin seemed to indicate he would abide by the ruling, saying “he appreciated that the 9th Circuit ruled so quickly, and that the state will comply,” according to Reuters.
Hawaii has been one of the most active states in opposing the travel ban, so the rulings represent a key win for the Trump administration. According to The New York Times, the full Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning the travel ban in October. A win there would be pretty significant vindication for the president — and would deal a crushing blow to states like Hawaii that have sought to obstruct the president’s agenda in court.
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