Litigation Over National Security Executive Order Continues


In a further development in the ongoing litigation over President Trump’s National Security Executive Order, the United States Supreme Court today halted a Hawaii federal judge’s order allowing refugees to enter this country who lack a close relationship with an America entity.

Previously, on June 26th, the Supreme Court modified the injunctions imposed by federal trial judges in Hawaii and Maryland against the Executive Order. The Supreme Court’s modification explained that refugees and foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (countries where demonstrated terrorism concerns exist) who lack a close relationship with a person or entity in this country may not gain entry during the temporary period in which the government considers improvements to the immigration and refugee screening processes.

Soon after the Supreme Court’s June 26th ruling, in an attempt to broaden the category of people who can enter this country, the State of Hawaii filed an emergency motion with the same trial judge who had imposed one of the injunctions. The State asked the judge to clarify the Supreme Court’s ruling before the Executive Order went into effect. The judge declined and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to consider the matter.

After losing at the Ninth Circuit, Hawaii went back to the same trial judge and asked him to modify the injunction. Last week, the judge agreed and broadened the definition of which family members can enter the country. The judge also allowed refugees to enter the country in those cases where the federal government had entered into an agreement with a resettlement agency.

The federal government immediately appealed the judge’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit. In addition, the government filed a motion with the Supreme Court to clarify its June 26th ruling that limited entry into the United States to only those refugees and foreign nationals who have close relationships with a person or entity in this country.

The government also requested that the Supreme Court stay the Hawaii judge’s refugee order. On that point, the government argued that the resettlement agencies typically have no direct contact and no relationship (let alone a close relationship) with the refugee before the refugee enters this country.

Today, the Supreme Court denied the government’s motion for clarification but stayed the Hawaii judge’s order allowing refugees to enter the country without the required close relationship with an American entity. That stay is in effect pending the government’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit. During that time frame, refugees will not be admitted entry to this country without the requisite close relationship with a person or entity in the country.

In the coming months, the Supreme Court will consider the merits of the legal challenges to the National Security Executive Order. The ACLJ plans to file an amicus brief supporting the Order.

Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.

Edward White is Senior Counsel with the ACLJ and has been practicing law for more than twenty-five years. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he was a Thomas J. White Center for Law & Government Scholar and managing and student articles editor of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. Since 2000, White has been specializing in civil rights litigation, representing clients across the country primarily in the areas of free speech, religious freedom, sanctity of human life, and traditional family values.