Friday, April 12, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
US: Only Supreme Court can relax immigration limits
By Selected News Articles @ 7:03 PM :: 5098 Views :: National News, Law Enforcement

U.S.: Only Supreme Court can relax immigration limits

by Lyle Denniston, US Constitution Center, July 12, 2017

Disagreeing with a federal appeals court, Trump Administration lawyers argued on Tuesday night that a federal judge had no authority to expand the categories of foreign nationals and refugees who may enter the U.S. under a presidential executive order.

In a new filing in a federal trial court in Honolulu, the Trump team argued that U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson “lacks authority…to grant additional relief beyond what the Supreme Court permitted” in its June 26 decision on this immigration controversy.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit indicated just last Friday that Judge Watson did have authority to interpret what the Justices had done, and to order a stop to any violation of the Justices’ ruling if he made such a finding.

The new government document did not mention the Circuit Court’s statement on the point, but argued instead that Judge Watson has lost authority over the case because the Supreme Court has granted review of the legality of President Trump’s executive order – an issue it is scheduled to take up in October, soon after opening its new term.  The Justices agreed to take on that question on the same day that they eased, somewhat, the Trump Administration restrictions.

Once again, the government raised the prospect that it would seek to take the dispute directly to the Supreme Court, if Judge Watson issued any new order relaxing the limitations that the Administration has put on entry of foreign nationals from six Mideast nations with Muslim majorities, and on entry of refugees from anywhere in the world.  The travel-to-the-U.S. restrictions, under the executive order, are to be suspended for specified periods — 90 days for Mideast travelers, 120 days for refugees.

For the first time, the Administration used its new filing on Tuesday to raise at least the possibility that it might give up the court fight at some point.  In asking Judge Watson to put on hold any new order he might issue to relax the Administration restrictions, it argued that such a postponement should last until the government attempted to pursue appeals to higher courts, or until the government filed “prompt notification….that it does not intend to seek any such further review” — whichever is later.  It was not clear, from the wording of that part of the new filing, just what would trigger such a decision to drop the battle.

President Trump himself has demanded several times that his lawyers defend his executive order on immigration as far up in the courts as they need to go.  It is not clear how a decision by the Justice Department to forsake further appeals would square with the President’s views.

Judge Watson now has before him a plea by the state of Hawaii and an Islamic imam, supported by 15 other states, the District of Columbia government, and by two refugee rights groups, to issue an order that would require the Trump Administration to lengthen the list of foreign travelers, including refugees, who have to be admitted to the U.S. despite the Trump executive order.

The Supreme Court, in its June 26 ruling, had declared that the government may not keep out foreigners who have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”   It gave some examples, but did not spell out in full what it meant by those words.

The Trump Administration interprets that wording in a considerably more narrow way than Hawaii and its supporters do, by excluding, for example, grandparents of people living in the U.S.    It also interprets far more narrowly which categories of refugees can qualify for admission.

This is the second time that Judge Watson has been asked to rule that the Administration’s stance violates the Supreme Court.  Last week, he refused to take action to clarify what the Supreme Court had decided, saying it was the Justices’ order, not his, that was at issue so he could not clarify it.

Hawaii’s lawyers then took the case to the Ninth Circuit Court.  While that court ruled last Friday that it had no jurisdiction to review Judge Watson’s denial of the kind of relief thaet the challengers had sought, it pointedly suggested that Hawaii and its supporters could go back to the Honolulu judge and ask for a different kind of order, to stop any violation of the Supreme Court order.

Now, with the latest filing by the Justice Department, Judge Watson faces this dilemma: does he accept the Circuit Court’s view that he does have authority to grant some remedy to Hawaii and its supporters, relaxing the Trump restrictions, or does he conclude – as the government contended – that the Supreme Court has taken the controversy away from him by granting its own review of the underlying legality of the Trump executive order itself?

The new government document offered a mixed array of arguments.  Aside from disputing the Honolulu judge’s order to grant any new remedy to Hawaii and its supporters, it directly argued against the specifics of the challengers’ suggestions that the government was violating the Supreme Court’s ruling.

It argued that Hawaii and its supporters should not have tried to take the dispute to the Ninth Circuit Court after Judge Watson had refused their plea earlier, but should have gone directly to the Supreme Court.  Even now, it added, the proper place for the challengers to take their plea is to the Supreme Court itself. Further, it argued that the Justices do have the authority to clarify an order they have issued, if they are asked to do so.  Since the case is still pending before the Justices, they could act on a clarification or modification plea, the document went on.

Standing out in this new filing, though, were the suggestions of what the government intended to do if Judge Watson did decide to relax the government’s restrictions.

In that event, it said, the judge should postpone the effectiveness of such a decision until the later of two possible situations: until the “prompt filing and disposition of a request by the government to the Supreme Court for clarification” of what it meant (or a prompt appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court in the event the Justices turned aside the clarification request), or, until “the prompt notification by the government that it does not intend to seek any such further review.”

The latter part of that statement, by referring to abandoning “such further review,” the government appeared to be suggesting that, even if Judge Watson did rule for Hawaii and its supporters, the Trump team might simply choose to give in.   It did not elaborate on that suggestion elsewhere in the document.

If Judge Watson does impose a relaxation of the Trump restrictions, and if he chooses to put any such ruling on hold, it appears that he would have to sort out just what he understands the government to be proposing that he write into a postponement order.

Hawaii’s lawyers are expected to file, by tomorrow, their reply to the government’s Tuesday response.   Presumably, Judge Watson will then act promptly on the dispute as it now stands before him.


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii