Attorney General Racine & Counterparts from 15 States Support Hawaii in Continued Fight Against Trump Travel Ban

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine has joined a coalition of 16 state attorneys general filing a friend-of-the-court briefin litigation by Hawaii against President Trump’s ban on travel into the United States by residents of certain majority Muslim countries. The brief supports Hawaii’s pending motion in federal court against President Trump’s interpretation of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the ban. The motion claims Trump’s interpretation is too narrow, excluding more travelers than the ruling allows.
“President Trump’s administration continues to attempt to exclude as many people as possible, including the family and loved ones of our residents,” Attorney General Racine said. “State attorneys general have served as a check on this administration’s unconstitutional and un-American actions since the beginning of the travel ban, and we will continue to fight it and any other attempts to discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin.”
Last week, Hawaii filed a motion in State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh v. Donald Trump, et al. to clarify the scope of a court injunction that partially blocks the travel ban; this same coalition of attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of the motion to clarify. While the district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit declined for procedural reasons to address that first motion, the 9th Circuit observed that Hawaii could seek injunctive relief from the district court. Late on Friday, July 7, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce or, alternatively, to modify the district court’s preliminary injunction. The amicus brief filed by the coalition of attorneys general supports that new motion.
Late last month, the Supreme Court lifted the part of the injunction blocking the ban, but left in place the portion of the injunction that prevented the enforcement of the ban against people with a close familial relationship to persons in the United States. The attorneys general argue that the Trump administration’s narrow interpretation of “close familial relationship” – which excludes grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings-in-law -- improperly and arbitrarily excludes from the protection of the injunction family members who fall squarely within its meaning and purpose, in violation of the Supreme Court’s directive.
“Amici have a strong interest in plaintiffs’ challenge to this Executive Order because many of its provisions have threatened—indeed, have already caused—substantial harm to our residents, communities, hospitals, universities, and businesses while courts continue to adjudicate the Order’s lawfulness,” the attorneys general wrote in their brief.
“In sum, the federal government’s restrictive definition of close familial relationships will result in the improper exclusion of numerous foreign nationals who have the requisite bona fide connection to persons in the United States, despite the Supreme Court’s unequivocal holding that this Court’s protections for such persons remain in full force. Accordingly, this Court should enter an order finding that such a restricted definition is impermissible and either enjoining defendants’ violation of the injunction by their application of the unlawful guidance, or modifying the injunction to specify in detail the relationships within its broad penumbra,” the attorneys general concluded.
The brief, available here, was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and signed by the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington state.