Jeff Sessions is not playing around. Rather than go to the Ninth Circus and wait for them to expand the overreaching District Judge Derrick Watson’s ruling from two days ago, Sessions is asking the Supreme Court to clarify their ruling.
We had been expecting them to issue a 5-4 ruling later this year, holding up all of Trump’s executive order. Chief Justice John Roberts likely compromised with the Democrat justices in order to get a unanimous, if limited ruling. This allowed them to brutally slap down all of the lower courts.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions went directly to the Supreme Court on Friday, asking for clarification of its June 26 travel ban decision and an immediate stay of U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson’s July 13 ruling that modified his original injunction that stopped Executive Order 13780, which placed a temporary ban on all refugees and a temporary travel ban on residents of six Middle Eastern countries.
That original injunction was largely overturned in the Court’s June 26 decision. Watson’s July 13 ruling significantly scaled back President Trump’s Supreme Court victory.
Late Friday, Acting Solicitor General Ken Wall filed a motion at the Supreme Court asking for the justices to clarify who qualifies as a close family member. If the Court is unwilling to go there, Wall alternatively asked the Court at minimum to stay Watson’s ruling while the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appeals his latest decision.
“The district court’s interpretation of this Court’s June 26, 2017, stay ruling distorts this Court’s decision and upends the equitable balance this Court struck,” the DOJ said in its motion, citing two particular errors in Watson’s decision.
First, “The district court’s categorical holding that the Order may not be applied to any refugee applicant as to whom the Department of State has obtained a contractual commitment from a resettlement agency — which includes every refugee permitted to enter the United States — effectively eviscerates this Court’s ruling partially staying the injunction as to Sections 6(a) and 6(b),” the DOJ argued.
Second, “the district court’s sweeping interpretation of ‘close familial relationship’ to encompass a wide range of distant relatives — including cousins, uncles, and siblings-in-law — effectively eliminates the ‘close’ requirement and has no basis in this Court’s ruling or the INA,” the DOJ continued.
Sessions also played it safe by appealing Watson’s July 13 ruling modifying his injunction.
“Out of an abundance of caution, to ensure that there is no impediment to this Court’s prompt resolution of this issue, the government has also filed today a notice of appeal of the district court’s decision modifying its injunction,” the motion stated.
By going directly to the Supreme Court for clarification, Sessions outmaneuvered both Watson, the federal judge in Hawaii, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had given Watson a “roadmap” for his July 13 decision when it ruled earlier this month against his previous decision that requested clarification from the Supreme Court.
Now, Attorney General Sessions is asking the Supreme Court for that clarification.
Sessions’ move surprised most legal observers, who expected him to first appeal Watson’s July 13 decision to the Ninth Circuit, which would probably have affirmed Watson, and then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
Instead, Sessions is asking the Supreme Court to do what the Ninth Circuit ruled Judge Watson could not ask the Supreme Court to do: Clarify its decision.
“Nearly three weeks ago, this Court issued its per curiam decision partially staying the injunctions” issued by Judge Watson stopping the implementation of Executive Order 13780, the Department of Justice’s motion began.
“Since that time, the government has faithfully implemented Executive Order No. 13,780 consistent with the terms of the Court’s stay,” the DOJ motion continued.