- The Washington Times
Friday, July 14, 2017

The administration on Friday said it will appeal directly to the Supreme Court after a lower federal judge, for the second time, ruled against President Trump’s updated travel ban policy.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii ruled late Thursday that cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, as well as grandparents and grandchildren, all count as “close” family for the purposes of immigration law, and so they are exempt from the ban on travel from six targeted countries.

His ruling seems to test the limits of the Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision last month that revived the travel ban, overturning an earlier ruling by Judge Watson.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions blasted Judge Watson, saying a single federal judge shouldn’t be allowed “to micromanage decisions of the co-equal Executive Branch.”

“The district court has issued decisions that are entrusted to the Executive Branch, undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers,” Mr. Sessions said.

“The Supreme Court has had to correct this lower court once, and we will now reluctantly return directly to the Supreme Court to again vindicate the rule of law and the Executive Branch’s duty to protect the nation,” the attorney general said.

All sides had expected a new slew of lawsuits after the Supreme Court’s ruling revived the travel ban, but left vague instructions for how it should be carried about.

The justices said Mr. Trump had the power in general to decide who should be admitted to the U.S., but said U.S. persons have rights to welcome family that couldn’t be trampled. The high court said anyone with a “close” relationship to a U.S. person couldn’t be excluded based on the travel ban.

Trump administration officials decided that close relationships were only parents, children and siblings.

Judge Watson initially agreed, in a ruling earlier this month where he rejected calls to step in and broaden the categories. But late Thursday the judge said he’s been convinced, and he issued a new injunction carving out the broader family categories.

He also ruled that potential refugees who have been in close contact with resettlement agencies in the U.S. are also exempt — allowing a large exemption to the president’s effort to crack down on refugee admissions.

Judge Watson has already been spanked once. His initial ruling against the travel ban was the broadest of any ruling in the country, and it was first curtailed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then mostly overturned by the Supreme Court.

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