WASHINGTON — Trump administration lawyers voicing frustration with a federal judge in Hawaii have asked the Supreme Court to intervene again and to allow the government to strictly enforce its temporary foreign travel ban.
The acting U.S. solicitor general said the justices should issue a ruling to clarify the travel ban or, at minimum, block the latest ruling by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii.
"At this point, this court's intervention is both necessary and warranted," Jeffery Wall, the acting solicitor general, said in an appeal filed Friday evening.
At issue now is whether the ban can be enforced to deny entry to grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins as well as what the government calls "more distant relatives."
On June 26, the Supreme Court said the travel ban could be enforced, but not against foreigner travelers who had a "close" family member in the United States. But its short opinion did not carefully define who qualified under that standard.
Lawyers for Hawaii then went back to Watson, who this week adopted a broader standard that would allow more family members and refugees to enter the country.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had earlier complained that a single judge in Hawaii should not be permitted to determine the government's policy, and he repeated that complaint in a statement Friday. "Once again, we are faced with a situation in which a single federal district court has undertaken by a nationwide injunction to micromanage decisions of the co-equal executive branch related to our national security," he said.
The justices are on their summer recess, and many have left Washington. Nonetheless, the justices regularly decide on emergency orders even when they are scattered around the country, and they likely will act on the government's appeal within a few days.
The emergency appeal comes at a particularly inconvenient time for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who oversees such appeals coming from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the West Coast.
Kennedy had traveled to Salzburg, Austria, where he teaches a summer class for the University of the Pacific. He had planned to be in San Francisco next week for the 9th Circuit's conference of judges.
But his wife, Mary, fell and broke her hip, and the court announced Friday that Kennedy will remain in Austria while she recovers. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch will take his place at the 9th Circuit conference.