Federal Judge Forced To Scale Back Trump Travel Ban Ruling

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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A federal judge in Hawaii on Monday narrowed the scope of an injunction he issued in March, after an appeals court concluded his initial order was too broad.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson’s March order prohibited the Departments of State and Homeland Security from reviewing federal vetting procedures and preparing reports recommending additional security measures for migrant and refugee entry. Per his new order, State and DHS may begin those reviews, provided they “do not burden individuals outside of the executive branch of the federal government.”

Watson’s order put the administration in something of a bind — the government’s stated rationale for interrupting migrant entry for 90 days was to assess the strength of its vetting processes. The administration claims this assessment is essential for the nation’s continued security. Critics charged that the government was not being forthright about the order’s true objectives, as it had not yet conducted these “vital” policy reviews — but it was Watson’s order that prohibited them from doing so in the first place.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the injunction was overly-broad last week.

The revised injunction makes it slightly less likely the Supreme Court will intervene to amend the injunction, as this dimension of Watson’s ruling was the most obvious error of law. The justices could announce as soon as Thursday whether they will review lower court rulings barring the order’s enforcement.

Should the high court agree to review the case, the government may now be asked about its progress on the vetting assessment in judicial proceedings, creating an additional complication for their defense of the order.

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