The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, rejecting a Trump administration challenge, said grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members with close U.S. relatives can travel here from six predominantly Muslim nations. But the court continued to bar refugees with sponsorship agreements with U.S. resettlement agencies.
The court’s unsigned order rejected the government’s request that the justices clarify their June 26 order that modified a Hawaii district court injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s so-called travel ban. The justices in June narrowed the injunction, allowing parts of the ban to take effect, and put the case on the court’s fall calendar. The court has set argument for October 10.
The high court in June had held that the travel ban applied only to foreign nationals with no connection at all to individuals or entities in the United States. For travel by individuals, the justices said, a close familiar relationship with someone in the United States was required. As for entities, there must be a relationship that is formal and documented.
The Trump administration, implementing the justices’ order, excluded from the definition of “close” family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, among others. And it said the travel ban applied even to refugees who had a sponsorship-assurance agreement with a U.S.-based resettlement agency.
Hawaii, represented by Hogan Lovells’ Neal Katyal, challenged the administration’s interpretation as it applied to those two categories. The Hawaii district court concluded the government too narrowly implemented the high court’s order. The government on July 14 returned to the Supreme Court and at the same time, filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The high court’s order Wednesday rejected the government’s motion for clarification without comment. It also stayed the district court’s injunction on the refugees covered by assurance agreements pending the outcome of the government’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr. and Neil Gorsuch said they would have stayed the Hawaii district court’s order in its entirety. Those three justices had also dissented from the high court’s June 26 opinion, saying they would have allowed the travel ban to go fully into effect.