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The US Justice Department said on Friday that it will ask the Supreme Court to reverse a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that the administration's definition of close family in allowing exemptions to President Donald Trump's ban on US entry for residents of six Muslim-majority countries is too narrow.
"(W)e will now reluctantly return directly to the Supreme Court to again vindicate the rule of law and the Executive Branch's duty to protect the nation," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, Efe reported.
Last month, the Supreme Court set aside injunctions issued by federal appellate courts and said that portions of Trump's March 6 executive order could take effect.
That document barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and excluded all refugees for 120 days.
In allowing the order to take effect, the Supreme Court said that the restrictions could not be applied to people with "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States.
Under the Trump administration guidelines, spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, fiances and siblings of those already in the country can be admitted. But grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are excluded.
Thursday's ruling by the judge in Hawaii struck down those exclusions.
"Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," US District Judge Derrick Watson found. "Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members.
The government's definition excludes them. That simply cannot be."
Besides expanding the definition of close family, Watson said that the government could not prohibit entry by refugees assured of placement in the United States by recognized refugee agencies.
The judge said that such assurances constituted a bona fide relationship with a US entity.
Sessions, however, said that "the district court has improperly substituted its policy preferences for that of the Executive branch, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the Executive Branch and the directive of the Supreme Court."
"The district court has issued decisions that are entrusted to the Executive Branch, undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers," the attorney general said.