Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, part of a coalition of 16 attorneys general, filed a new amicus brief in the Hawaii travel ban litigation, opposing the Trump administration's application to stay last week's district court decision that the ban should not prevent grandparents and other close relatives of United States residents from entering the country.
The amicus brief was signed by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
"Individually, and collectively, it has been the leadership of attorneys general to stand up to this Administration to make sure the actions they take are legally and morally right," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "To date, the Administration has fallen down on both fronts. For as long as they continue to attempt to tear down the protections our country and our constitution ensures for each of us, we will continue to use our powers to challenge their immoral and unconstitutional efforts."
In June, the United States Supreme Court held that nationwide injunctions entered against the travel ban by two courts should remain in place with respect to persons having a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," including persons having a "close familial relationship" to a United States resident. Earlier this month, Hawaii filed a motion in State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh v. Donald Trump, et al. to clarify the scope of the remaining injunction in that case, supported by a coalition of Attorneys General. While the district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined for procedural reasons to address that motion, the Ninth Circuit observed that Hawaii could seek injunctive relief from the district court on the question of how "close familial relationship" can be defined.
Last week, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking, among other things, to enforce the district court's preliminary injunction, supported by an amicus brief led by the same coalition of Attorneys General – who argued that the Trump administration too narrowly interpreted "close familial relationship."
On Thursday, the district court partly granted the plaintiffs' motion, interpreting the term "close familial relationship" to include grandparents and other close relatives beyond the nuclear family.
"The federal government's cramped view of what counts as a 'close familial relationship' is also contradicted by both common experience and decades of social science research," the Attorneys General wrote.
"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 nationwide preliminary injunction initially entered by the district court in this case, along with the nationwide injunction entered in Trump v. IRAP, substantially mitigated the harm threatened by the Order. And this Court's decision to leave important aspects of those injunctions in place continues to provide critical protection to the state interests endangered by the Order.
Accordingly, the amici States have a strong interest in ensuring that the protection provided by the remaining portions of the injunction is not diminished by an interpretation that is inconsistent with the meaning and purpose of this Court's directives."
"In sum, the balance of the equities here tips decidedly in favor of denying the federal government's request for a stay. While defendants have identified no appreciable harm that the district court's July 13th order will cause to the federal government's interests during the brief period for which the Order will be effective, a stay of the July 13th order would allow irreparable harm to be imposed on the amici States and our residents. The status quo should be preserved while this litigation continues," the Attorneys General concluded.