Hawaii challengers seek to block Trump travel ban again in appeals court

Hawaii filed an emergency motion Friday in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to immediately block President Donald Trump’s travel ban following Thursday night’s ruling from a lower court judge who declined clarify the categories of foreign travelers that must be permitted entry into the US.

Last week, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to begin implementation of the travel ban for foreign nationals from six predominately Muslim countries who lack any “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

Administration officials later issued guidance that a host of people with relationships in the US — including grandparents or refugee resettlement organizations — would be excluded under the executive order, and Hawaii sued for clarification in federal district court soon thereafter.

“It is evident that the parties quarrel over the meaning and intent of words and phrases authored not by this Court, but by the Supreme Court,” US District Court Judge Derrick Watson said Thursday, declining to offer any clarification. “Accordingly, the clarification to the modifications that the parties seek should be more appropriately sought in the Supreme Court.”

Lawyers for Hawaii said Friday that Watson was wrong and the Ninth Circuit should essentially direct the judge to do his job and issue an immediate halt to the travel ban in the meantime.

“It is a district court’s responsibility to clarify and enforce its injunction in the first instance,” they wrote in the filing. “The District Court’s refusal to acknowledge as much has enabled the Government to continue to flout the Supreme Court’s directives and impair the rights of countless Americans with each passing day.”

The state further suggested that the same three-judge panel that heard the case in May take it up the once again. Because it is an emergency motion, however, the court may refer it to the judges on the emergency motions panel, which consists of one Democratic and two Republican appointees.