The state of Hawaii on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to expand the scope of the Trump administration's temporary ban on refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries by including grandparents and other family members of U.S. residents.
In a court filing responding to a request made by the Trump administration on Friday, the state also asked the court not further limit the number of refugees eligible to enter the United States under a separate part of U.S. President Donald Trump's March 6 executive order.
The Supreme Court's decision last month revived parts of Trump's executive order banning travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, as well as refugees for 120 days. The court also agreed to hear oral arguments in the fall over whether the ban violates the U.S. Constitution.
The Trump administration has asked the nine justices to overturn Thursday's decision by a U.S. district judge in Hawaii, which limited the scope of the administration's temporary ban on refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The government has a similar request pending in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In Tuesday's court filing, Hawaii's lawyers described the U.S. government's argument as "nonsense," saying it was reasonable for the lower court to conclude that grandparents are close relatives.
"The government's complaint boils down to the belief that any interpretation that meaningfully diminishes the practical consequence of its bans must be wrong," the state's court filing said.
The court could act on the Trump administration's request at any time.
The latest round in the fight over Trump's executive order, which he has said is needed for national security reasons, came after the Supreme Court intervened last month to partially revive the two bans, which were blocked by lower courts.
The Supreme Court said then that the bans could take effect, but that people with a "bona fide relationship" to a U.S. person or entity could not be barred.
The administration had narrowly interpreted that language, saying the ban would apply to grandparents and other family members, prompting the state of Hawaii to ask Hawaii-based U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson to expand the definition of who could be admitted. He ruled for the state late on Thursday.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, editing by G Crosse)