Archive for the ‘U.S. Supreme Court’ category

Supreme Court Reinstates The Trump Travel Ban In Full Depending Appeal

December 5, 2017

Supreme Court Reinstates The Trump Travel Ban In Full Depending Appeal, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, December 5, 2017

I do not see how these orders cannot be taken as a strong indication of the view of the majority on the Supreme Court in favor of the authority claimed by the Administration.  Moreover, the orders contain a notable line that indicates that the Court wants this litigation brought to an end: “In light of its decision to consider the case on an expedited basis, we expect that the Court of Appeals will render its decision with appropriate dispatch.”  If the injunction decision is any indication, the Court may be thinking of dispatching more than the schedule in this long-running litigation.

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Yesterday, the Trump Administration secured two clear victories after the United States Supreme Court issued two orders lifting the lower court injunctions imposed on the travel ban.  I have written repeatedly on the travel ban (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and my view that the case law supported the Trump Administration.  I thought that the appeal that reached the Supreme Court on the second round seemed likely to succeed while the third round was even stronger for the Administration.  The Administration had already secured an order with the Ninth Circuit reversing the trial courts in critical respects.  Now the Supreme Court restored the travel ban in its entirety pending appeal.  The orders issued shortly before appellate arguments on the merits this week is a further indication that the Administration is likely to prevail on the merits.  Indeed, while the orders do not dictate an outcome, they send a strong message to the lower courts on the skepticism of the Court.

When the Supreme Court lifted a significant part of the injunctions imposed by lower courts, there was a surprising footnote in the short order that I discussed at the time.  The Court indicated that the Trump Administration had not asked for an expedited hearing before October.  That set the travel ban up for what I described as “planned obsolescence” to expire shortly before the scheduled oral argument.

Buried in the order was the following line after the Court set the oral hearing for the start of the October session:  “The Government has not requested that we expedite consideration of the merits to a greater extent.”  So the Administration asked for expedition but did not push for a July argument, which would not be unprecedented. Instead, the Court set oral argument for the start of the October session.  Why?  If this is a matter of national security danger, one would expect at least a request for a July argument.

As discussed at the time, the answer would seem to be that the Administration was planning to issue a new travel order after the expiration (it would be smarter to wait for the passage of the 90 days to avoid arguments that the new order in any way worked in tandem with the prior order).  The new order would then be based on new information, new priorities, and likely cover additional countries. That would make it even more difficult to challenge.  The degree of reliance of lower courts on Trump’s campaign statements and tweets were always questionable.  Replaying “Golden Trump Oldies” on a new ban is unlikely to garner as much of a judicial audience.

After the Supreme Court order lifting the injunction, the expired ban barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who could not show a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the U.S. As I discuss, the new order could add additional countries to the list and identify other vetting concerns and procedures.  It did.

The new order issued Sept. 24 contains a new list of countries that dropped some of the original countries while adding new non-Muslim countries. For the record, I have long criticized the earlier orders against the travel orders as relying too heavily on campaign statements and too little on existing case law. I believe that the administration would have largely prevailed on the second order if the litigation were not mooted. The new opinions in Hawaii and Maryland offered basically the same narrative while ignoring the new factual foundation.

There is no question that President Trump continues to make the defense of these orders more difficult with his controversial tweets, including the recent retweeting of controversial videos from an extremist group in England. However, the materiality of these statements has become more and more forced with each new generation of agency findings. Agencies studied the vetting procedures for months and reached a consensus on the changes that they deemed necessary for border protection. Such factual findings are normally accorded deference by courts, which are bound not to substitute their judgment for policy or political choices.

Judge Chuang notably found that the administration may have met the “low bar” of establishing that entry from these countries would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” However, he insisted that the administration did not “explain why the broad travel ban is necessary in a way…unrelated to religious animus.” It is not clear how the administration is supposed to prove that, particularly after shouldering the burden on the detrimental impact to the nation’s security. The administration cited “inadequate identity management protocols, information sharing practices, and risk factors,” including need technological improvements.

The new orders allow, for the first time, the travel bans to go into full affect. They notably do not include the prior limitation imposed by the Court in June when the Court lifted most but not all of the injunctions.  At that time, three justices indicated that they wanted to lift the injunctions without limitations but the rest of the Court decided to preserve the injunction for those with established connections to the United States.  On this occasion, only Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented to allowing the travel ban to be enforced in its entirety.

While the orders relate to the injunctions and not the merits, the Court clearly rejected the lower court finding under the preliminary injunction standard that the challengers had shown a “likelihood of success on the merits” of the case. The Court could also have rejected the showing that the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities weighs in the plaintiff’s favor, or that a preliminary injunction is in the public interest.

I do not see how these orders cannot be taken as a strong indication of the view of the majority on the Supreme Court in favor of the authority claimed by the Administration.  Moreover, the orders contain a notable line that indicates that the Court wants this litigation brought to an end: “In light of its decision to consider the case on an expedited basis, we expect that the Court of Appeals will render its decision with appropriate dispatch.”  If the injunction decision is any indication, the Court may be thinking of dispatching more than the schedule in this long-running litigation.

Here are the orders: International Refugee Assistance order and the Hawaii order.

Supreme Court permits full enforcement of Trump travel ban

December 4, 2017

Supreme Court permits full enforcement of Trump travel ban, Fox News, December 4, 2017

(Details should be published soon. — DM)

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will permit the full enforcement of President Trump’s controversial travel ban.

Supreme Court justice puts hold on Trump refugee ban ruling

September 11, 2017

Supreme Court justice puts hold on Trump refugee ban ruling, ReutersLawrence Hurley, September 11, 2017

(Please see also, Trump asks Supreme Court to strike down injunction against his travel ban. — DM)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday put a temporary hold on limits imposed by a lower court on President Donald Trump’s order barring most refugees from entering the United States.

Kennedy acted in response to the U.S. Justice Department’s challenge to the part of a Thursday ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that would let refugees from around the world enter the country if they have a formal offer from a resettlement agency.

Without Kennedy’s intervention, the appeals court decision would have gone into effect on Tuesday. Kennedy’s action gives the full Supreme Court time to consider the merits of the Trump administration’s emergency request in full. Kennedy asked refugee ban challengers to file a response by noon (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.

The administration did not ask the court to put on hold a separate part of the lower court ruling that exempted grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of legal U.S. residents from Trump’s ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

 In the court filing, the Justice Department said the 9th Circuit’s decision on the refugee ban “will disrupt the status quo and frustrate orderly implementation of the order’s refugee provisions.” Up to 24,000 additional refugees would become eligible to enter the country than would be otherwise allowed, according to the administration.

The Justice Department’s filing marked the latest twist in the ongoing legal fight over Trump’s sweeping March 6 executive order that barred travelers from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days, a move Trump argued was needed to prevent terrorist attacks. The same order included a 120-day ban on refugees from around the world.

The bans were challenged by Hawaii and other Democratic-led states, the American Civil Liberties Union and refugee groups.

Both provisions were blocked by lower courts but were partially revived by the Supreme Court in June, which said the bans could be applied only to people without a “bona fide” relationship to people or entities in the United States.

That prompted new litigation brought by Hawaii over the meaning of that phrase, including whether written assurances by resettlement agencies obligating them to provide services for specific refugees would count as a bona fide relationship.

The Trump administration said the assurances should not, meaning such refugees would be barred.

The appeals court also said his administration did not persuasively explain why the broader travel ban should be enforced against close relatives of people from the six specified countries. The Justice Department said in its filing on Monday it disagreed with that part of the decision but was not seeking to block it from going into effect.

The broader question of whether the travel ban discriminates against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution, as lower courts previously ruled, will be considered by the Supreme Court in October.

States, civil liberties advocates and others who challenged Trump’s order in court argued that it violated federal immigration law and the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on the government favoring or disfavoring any particular religion. Critics called it a discriminatory “Muslim ban.”

Trump’s March order replaced a broader January one that was blocked by federal courts.

Trump asks Supreme Court to strike down injunction against his travel ban

September 11, 2017

Trump asks Supreme Court to strike down injunction against his travel ban, Washington Examiner, Anna Giaritelli and Ryan Lovelace, September 11, 2017

The Trump administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to immediately intervene and block a federal appeals court ruling imposing an injunction against President Trump’s modified travel ban.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s interpretation of which family members are permitted to enter the U.S. under the portion of the travel ban that the Supreme Court allowed to take effect. The travel ban temporarily blocked foreign nationals from coming to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries unless they have certain family ties in the U.S., a move the Trump administration said is needed to ensure national security.

A federal judge in Hawaii first blocked the government’s petition to have the ban cover close family and extended relatives. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld that ruling last week, frustrating the Trump administration’s attempt to add definition about who would be covered by the ban, and who would not.

“Stated simply, the Government does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship, in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin is not,” ruled the 9th Circuit Court on Thursday.

The Trump administration, however, believes the Supreme Court should halt the 9th Circuit’s most recent ruling pending argument from the court, in part because the 9th Circuit ordered that the government stop implementing its ban.

“The court of appeals’ decision — which will take effect at approximately 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow (September 12, 2017) because the court drastically shortened the time for issuance of the mandate — will disrupt the status quo and frustrate orderly implementation of the Order’s refugee provisions that this Court made clear months ago could take effect,” wrote Jeffrey Wall, acting solicitor general, in the Monday filing. “The [Supreme] Court should not permit its rulings to be frustrated in that fashion, and it should not allow the ‘equitable balance’ it carefully struck to be upset while the merits of the injunction are pending before it. The Court can and should prevent further uncertainty and disruption by staying the court of appeals’ ruling with respect to refugee assurances.”

Jeff Sessions to appeal latest Hawaii travel ban decision to Supreme Court

July 14, 2017

Jeff Sessions to appeal latest Hawaii travel ban decision to Supreme Court, Washington ExaminerKelly Cohen, July 14, 2017

(Please see also, Hawaii judge rules Trump’s travel ban too strict, cannot ban grandparents and other family members. The circuit judge who issued the ruling said that it would be null if the government filed an emergency appeal. The appeal to the Supreme Court should have a similar effect. — DM)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday the Justice Department will appeal the latest decision by a Hawaii District Court to limit the scope of President Trump’s travel ban, and blasted the court for “micromanag[ing] the decisions of the coequal executive branch.”

“[T]he district court has improperly substituted its policy preferences for the national security judgments of the executive branch in a time of grave threats, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the Executive Branch and the directive of the Supreme Court,” Sessions said.

 Sessions said the court “undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers.”

The Justice Department will now turn again to the Supreme Court, Sessions said, calling having to do so something the Trump administration will do “reluctantly.”

The judge in Hawaii ruled Thursday night that Trump’s interpretation of the travel ban goes too far in banning family members from the United States.

Trump implemented the ban to allow people with close family ties to the U.S. enter from the six countries covered by the ban: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. But it said grandparents, grandchildren, brothers and sisters in law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins don’t qualify.

State of Hawaii Files Yet Another Legal Challenge to Trump Travel Ban

July 10, 2017

State of Hawaii Files Yet Another Legal Challenge to Trump Travel Ban, BreitbartMichael Patrick Leahy, July 9, 2017

The Associated Press

Hawaii’s assertion that the Government “intends to continue implementing Executive Order 13780 in a manner that conflicts with the portions of [Judge Watson’s March 29, 2017] preliminary injunction” that were not stayed by the Supreme Court requires Judge Watson to make a significant leap of interpretation, one that, on the face of it, appears to run counter to the specific language the Court used in its June 26 decision.

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Just hours after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied its most recent challenge to the Trump travel ban, the state of Hawaii filed yet another motion challenging it in federal court:

In its June 26 decision, the Supreme Court let stand the temporary travel and refugee ban contained in that executive order but added that the ban would not apply to refugees and visa applicants with a “bona fide relationship” to an American resident.

The Trump administration quickly defined “bona fide relationship” as parent, child, sibling, spouse or fiance. The state of Hawaii wants a broader definition that would include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and possibly more distant relations.

“Late Friday, the Ninth Circuit said no to Hawaii’s request for an emergency appeal of Judge Watson’s denial, saying it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal,” as Breitbart News reported on Saturday:

But the liberal judges on the panel could not resist giving Hawaii a road map to get what they want.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that Hawaii should have asked Judge Watson to modify his previous injunction halting the Executive Order on March 15 (partially overturned by the Supreme Court on June 26) instead of asking for him to “clarify” the Supreme Court’s decision.

Later on Friday night, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin filed a 31-page motion in Honolulu with U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson that did just that. The former Principal Deputy Solicitor General under President Obama, Neal Kumar Katyal, now a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., is private co-counsel for both plaintiffs–the state of Hawaii and Ismail Eshikh–in the case.

Katyal has extensive experience arguing before the Supreme Court. In November 2015, National Law Journal reported “Neal Katyal’s 26th argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, given in an otherwise routine case Monday, marked a major milestone: He has appeared at the lectern more times than any other male minority lawyer except for Thurgood Marshall.”

“The Government has announced that it is implementing, and that it intends to continue implementing, Executive Order 13780 in a manner that conflicts with the portions of this Court’s preliminary injunction that were not stayed by the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2017 ruling,” the motion stated:

Plaintiffs therefore request that the Court issue an Order enforcing or modifying its preliminary injunction to reflect that:

(1) the injunction bars the Government from implementing the Executive Order against grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States;

(2) the injunction prohibits the Government from applying sections 6(a) and 6(b) to exclude refugees who: (i) have a formal assurance from a resettlement agency within the United States (ii) have a bona fide client relationship with a U.S. legal services organization; or (iii) are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (“USRAP”) through the Iraqi Direct Access Program for “U.S.-affiliated Iraqis,” the Central American Minors Program, or the Lautenberg Program;

(3) the injunction bars defendants from suspending any part of the refugee admission process, including any part of the “Advanced Booking” process, for individuals with a bona fide
relationship with a U.S. person or entity; and

(4) the preliminary injunction prohibits the Government from applying a presumption that an applicant lacks “a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

In its June 26 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that with regards to the temporary 120 ban on refugees, “The Government’s application to stay the injunction with respect to §§6(a) and (b) is accordingly granted in part.”

Section 6(a) may not be enforced against an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

Nor may §6(b); that is, such a person may not be excluded pursuant to §6(b), even if the 50,000-person cap has been reached or exceeded. As applied to all other individuals, the provisions may take effect.

Just hours after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied its most recent challenge to the Trump travel ban, the state of Hawaii filed yet another motion challenging it in federal court:

In its June 26 decision, the Supreme Court let stand the temporary travel and refugee ban contained in that executive order but added that the ban would not apply to refugees and visa applicants with a “bona fide relationship” to an American resident.

The Trump administration quickly defined “bona fide relationship” as parent, child, sibling, spouse or fiance. The state of Hawaii wants a broader definition that would include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and possibly more distant relations.

“Late Friday, the Ninth Circuit said no to Hawaii’s request for an emergency appeal of Judge Watson’s denial, saying it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal,” as Breitbart News reported on Saturday:

But the liberal judges on the panel could not resist giving Hawaii a road map to get what they want.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that Hawaii should have asked Judge Watson to modify his previous injunction halting the Executive Order on March 15 (partially overturned by the Supreme Court on June 26) instead of asking for him to “clarify” the Supreme Court’s decision.

Later on Friday night, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin filed a 31-page motion in Honolulu with U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson that did just that. The former Principal Deputy Solicitor General under President Obama, Neal Kumar Katyal, now a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., is private co-counsel for both plaintiffs–the state of Hawaii and Ismail Eshikh–in the case.

Katyal has extensive experience arguing before the Supreme Court. In November 2015, National Law Journal reported “Neal Katyal’s 26th argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, given in an otherwise routine case Monday, marked a major milestone: He has appeared at the lectern more times than any other male minority lawyer except for Thurgood Marshall.”

“The Government has announced that it is implementing, and that it intends to continue implementing, Executive Order 13780 in a manner that conflicts with the portions of this Court’s preliminary injunction that were not stayed by the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2017 ruling,” the motion stated:

Plaintiffs therefore request that the Court issue an Order enforcing or modifying its preliminary injunction to reflect that:

(1) the injunction bars the Government from implementing the Executive Order against grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States;

(2) the injunction prohibits the Government from applying sections 6(a) and 6(b) to exclude refugees who: (i) have a formal assurance from a resettlement agency within the United States (ii) have a bona fide client relationship with a U.S. legal services organization; or (iii) are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (“USRAP”) through the Iraqi Direct Access Program for “U.S.-affiliated Iraqis,” the Central American Minors Program, or the Lautenberg Program;

(3) the injunction bars defendants from suspending any part of the refugee admission process, including any part of the “Advanced Booking” process, for individuals with a bona fide
relationship with a U.S. person or entity; and

(4) the preliminary injunction prohibits the Government from applying a presumption that an applicant lacks “a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

In its June 26 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that with regards to the temporary 120 ban on refugees, “The Government’s application to stay the injunction with respect to §§6(a) and (b) is accordingly granted in part.”

Section 6(a) may not be enforced against an individual seeking admission as a refugee who can credibly claim a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

Nor may §6(b); that is, such a person may not be excluded pursuant to §6(b), even if the 50,000-person cap has been reached or exceeded. As applied to all other individuals, the provisions may take effect.

Hawaii’s assertion that the Government “intends to continue implementing Executive Order 13780 in a manner that conflicts with the portions of [Judge Watson’s March 29, 2017] preliminary injunction” that were not stayed by the Supreme Court requires Judge Watson to make a significant leap of interpretation, one that, on the face of it, appears to run counter to the specific language the Court used in its June 26 decision.

“The facts of these cases illustrate the sort of relationship that qualifies,” the Supreme Court said of both the temporary travel ban and the temporary refugee ban.

For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, like Doe’s wife or Dr. Elshikh’s mother-in-law, clearly has such a relationship.

As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO–2.

The students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii have such a relationship with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.

Not so someone who enters into a relationship simply to avoid §2(c): For example, a nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to client lists, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion. (emphasis added)

While Judge Watson expressed considerable personal animosity towards President Trump in his March 15 temporary restraining order and his March 29 preliminary injunction, the state of Hawaii is asking him to interpret the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision in such a way that looks perilously close to largely rejecting it.

Should he rule in favor of the state of Hawaii, and should the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals uphold that decision upon a likely appeal by the Trump administration, the matter would again go to the Supreme Court for consideration.

Of the 49,803 refugees who have been resettled in the United States during the first nine months and seven days of FY 2017, only three–all from Burma–have been resettled in Hawaii, according to the State Department interactive website.

In FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, not a single refugee was resettled in Hawaii out of the total of 84,995 that were resettled in the entire country.

In the fifteen plus fiscal years since FY 2002, a total of 127 refugees have been resettled in Hawaii.

“The facts of these cases illustrate the sort of relationship that qualifies,” the Supreme Court said of both the temporary travel ban and the temporary refugee ban.

For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, like Doe’s wife or Dr. Elshikh’s mother-in-law, clearly has such a relationship.

As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO–2.

The students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii have such a relationship with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.

Not so someone who enters into a relationship simply to avoid §2(c): For example, a nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to client lists, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion. (emphasis added)

While Judge Watson expressed considerable personal animosity towards President Trump in his March 15 temporary restraining order and his March 29 preliminary injunction, the state of Hawaii is asking him to interpret the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision in such a way that looks perilously close to largely rejecting it.

Should he rule in favor of the state of Hawaii, and should the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals uphold that decision upon a likely appeal by the Trump administration, the matter would again go to the Supreme Court for consideration.

Of the 49,803 refugees who have been resettled in the United States during the first nine months and seven days of FY 2017, only three–all from Burma–have been resettled in Hawaii, according to the State Department interactive website.

In FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, not a single refugee was resettled in Hawaii out of the total of 84,995 that were resettled in the entire country.

In the fifteen plus fiscal years since FY 2002, a total of 127 refugees have been resettled in Hawaii.

Judge in Hawaii leaves Trump’s travel ban rules in place

July 7, 2017

Judge in Hawaii leaves Trump’s travel ban rules in place, Washington Times, July 6, 2017

FILE- In this June 30, 2017, file photo, critics of President Donald Trump’s travel ban hold signs during a news conference with Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin in Honolulu.

A federal judge delivered President Trump yet another legal victory on his travel ban executive order late Thursday, allowing to remain in effect the White House’s revised rules that cast a fairly narrow screen on who will be admitted as refugees or from six targeted countries.

Judge Derrick K. Watson said the state of Hawaii and other immigrant rights groups challenging Mr. Trump should take their beef up with the Supreme Court since it was the justices’ vague ruling that has led to confusion.

“This court will not upset the Supreme Court’s careful balancing,” Judge Watson wrote.

 In a June 26 ruling, the justices agreed to let much of Mr. Trump’s extreme vetting policy go into effect, canceling an earlier injunction Judge Watson and other federal judges had imposed.

The justices, in a 9-0 ruling, said that for would-be visitors without a connection to the U.S. — either a close relative or a job offer or participation in a school program, for example — Mr. Trump could exclude them. For those with close relationships, however, the justices said the relatives or entities in the U.S. had rights that must be weighed, and for now those rights trump the president’s security concerns.

The Supreme Court has planned full arguments for October.

But the justices didn’t define what a close relationship means, leaving it up to the administration to say, and Mr. Trump’s opponents to then battle over.

Homeland Security said it looked to federal immigration law and previous court rulings and concluded that parents, siblings and spouses were close relationships, but others — including grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and even couples engaged to be married — did not qualify.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin had argued that in his state, close family relationships had a much broader meaning that needed to be protected.

Judge Watson said he’d be happy to interpret his own orders, but since the standard in this case was set by the Supreme Court, it’s up to the justices to say what they meant.

Justice Clarence Thomas had predicted a slew of lawsuits would result from the high court’s ruling last month, saying they had left a muddle.

For now, Mr. Trump remains free to restrict entry of many would-be visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — the majority-Muslim nations that the government, dating back to the Obama administration, has deemed to be threats. His executive order imposes a 90-day pause on those admissions.

Mr. Trump has also called for a 120-day halt to refugee admissions worldwide. The Supreme Court said he could only halt those refugees who, like the visitors from the six targeted countries, don’t have a close relationship with someone in the U.S.

All sides are still trying to hash out what that means, and whether refugees in the pipeline who have been promised resettlement by a nonprofit agency in the U.S. can still come.

For now, Judge Watson’s ruling marks another rare court victory for Mr. Trump after a string of defeats.

His original travel ban policy issued in January was blocked by several courts, including the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He went back to the drawing board and revised his order in March to meet the 9th Circuit’s objections, but that court and the 4th Circuit blocked even the updated order, arguing Mr. Trump broke procedural laws and, in the case of one of the courts, said he showed too much animus toward Muslims to allow his order to stand.

The Supreme Court, though, rejected those reasons, instead looking at the executive order on its face and concluding Mr. Trump did have national security and immigration powers as president that must be respected.