A federal appeals court in California has ruled that the Trump administration's long-delayed travel ban can go into partial effect, allowing the government to temporarily keep travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit puts on hold a lower court ruling last month that blocked the administration's ban against travelers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad.
The appellate panel, all Clinton appointees, ruled that a preliminary injunction issued by District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu may not go into full effect. But it would allow "foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." The panel said that would include "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins."
Judge Watson's ruling came in response to a challenge filed by the state of Hawaii. Neither the appellate nor the lower court rulings affect travelers from North Korea and Venezuela. In his preliminary injunction, Watson did not include people from those two countries.
In a statement, Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin said, "Today's decision today closely tracks guidance previously issued by the Supreme Court. I'm pleased that family ties to the U. S., including grandparents, will be respected."
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice, Lauren Ehrsam, said, "We are reviewing the court's order and the government will begin enforcing the travel proclamation consistent with the partial stay. We believe that the proclamation should be allowed to take effect in its entirety."
This latest legal development tests whether Trump Travel Ban 3.0 will withstand judicial scrutiny. The first was blocked by the courts and the second expired before it could win court approval.
There is a parallel case winding through the federal court in Maryland where a judge also blocked Trump's travel ban in mid-October. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang's order was less sweeping, although it also favored travelers with a "bona fide" relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
As the Two-Way reported, "In his ruling, Chuang wrote that President Trump's own tweets helped convince him that the latest policy is an 'inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban' that Trump called for on the campaign trail and is therefore likely to be found unconstitutional."
An appeal of that ruling will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on December 8.
The 9th Circuit Appeals Court will reexamine the case on December 6.
As the Washington Post points out, in order to survive, the travel ban would need a green light from both appeals courts.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
President Trump's travel ban is back on, partially, after an appeals court ruling over the third version of it. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.
RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: The ruling comes from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They said that while this court is still examining the overall case, the administration can bar travelers from six countries - Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Chad. However, they said nationals of those countries must be allowed in if they have a close relationship with a person in the United States, including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. The travel ban was challenged by the state of Hawaii. Its Attorney General Douglas Chin says this decision closely tracks guidance that came from the Supreme Court in June when the justices were examining an earlier version of the travel ban.
DOUGLAS CHIN: So what we have here is kind of a temporary stop gap that, to my mind, is basically the judges trying to determine what is fair between both sides and kind of drawing the line at close family relationships.
GONZALES: In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, Lauren Ehrsam, said we are reviewing the court's order and the government will begin enforcing the travel proclamation consistent with a partial stay. She added that the government believes that the travel ban should be allowed to take effect in its entirety. Carl Tobias teaches at the University of Richmond School of Law. He says the next stage in the legal battle comes early next month. The same panel of the Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments in the Hawaii case. In Maryland, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will review a separate challenge to the administration. And Tobias says both appellate courts already have ruled against earlier versions of the travel ban.
CARL TOBIAS: Just because you went in the appeals courts won't be the end of it. I'm sure the government will go back to the Supreme Court.
GONZALES: Richard Gonzales, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.