Hawaii’s attorney general said he welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement Monday that it will hear challenges to President Donald Trump’s travel ban this fall, even though it allowed part of the ban to temporarily take effect.

Doug Chin said it was “notable” that, at least for now, six of the nine justices determined that people from six primarily Muslim countries will be allowed entrance to the United States as long as they have a “bona fide” connection to a person or other entity here.

In Chin’s view, the court’s decision means people such as university students and faculty, as well as the mother-in-law of the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, would not be restricted from entering due to religion or national origin.

Nonetheless, the court’s decision constituted a rare legal victory for the president, and Trump was pleased with the outcome.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin responds to Supreme Court temporary decision.
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin at a Monday press conference. He said he was pleased about exceptions in President Trump’s revised travel ban that the Supreme Court allowed to take effect. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The president said in a statement that the “unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security. It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective.”

Trump added, “As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm.”

Chin, who acknowledged the national security and presidential power arguments, said it was “premature” for Trump to declare victory.

Instead, he characterized the Supreme Court’s decision as “just another step forward.”

He also expressed optimism that the court might ultimately rule in favor of Hawaii’s argument that the ban is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

“It will be a split outcome based on what was decided today,” Chin said at a news conference in downtown Honolulu.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, another conservative who is often the court’s swing vote, sided with the four more liberal members of the court in the majority decision allowing an interim compromise regarding the ban.

Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, the most conservative members of the court, partially dissented.

Chin said he always expected that the Supreme Court would be divided on the travel ban cases. 

But he said he believed that with the way he and other opponents of the travel ban have set up their arguments — that it violates both the 1st Amendment and immigration law — a majority decision can be won at the Supreme Court.

“It is about as good as you can get,” he said.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin responds to Supreme Court temporary decision.
The Hawaii attorney general said it was “premature” for the president to declare victory. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for October. Chin said he would attend, but that he expected Neal Katyal, the lead attorney for the state in Hawaii v. Trump, would conduct arguments before the court.

Hawaii filed its lawsuit Feb. 3, one week after the president issued the original travel ban. It called for suspending the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, banned Syrian refugees indefinitely and barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days.

That suit was suspended by U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu after a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide injunction against the plan.

In March, Trump modified his ban, removing Iraq from the list of seven banned nations (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) and not singling Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban or giving preferential treatment to the refugee claims of religious minorities.

Watson then allowed Hawaii to modify its suit to challenge the second ban, and ultimately issued a nationwide injunction against it.

Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit. He has a Syrian mother-in-law who may be barred from visiting his family in Hawaii.

On Monday, Chin interpreted the Supreme Court’s action to mean that Elshikh’s family can still enter the country.

The attorney general said it was unclear whether the court would rule on the travel ban this year or later.

U.S. Supreme Court Order On The Travel Ban Appeals:

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