Hawaii Launches First Legal Challenge to Revised Travel Ban

Oliver Laughland, The Guardian, March 8, 2017

Donald Trump’s newly revised travel ban faced its first legal challenge late Tuesday evening as the state of Hawaii filed a request in federal court to revise a lawsuit previously lodged against the president’s first failed ban.

Trump’s new executive order, signed on Monday, bars new visas for people from six Muslim majority countries and replaces an initial order issued on 27 January, which was chaotically rolled out and subsequently halted by a federal court following a barrage of legal challenges from states and advocate groups across the country.

The new order sought to alleviate some of these complaints by offering exemptions to lawful permanent US residents and current visa holders from the six countries, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Syria and Libya, as well as staggering the timeframe of implementation.

But the state of Hawaii argues in a proposed amended complaint that the new order remains incompatible with freedom of religion protections in both the state and federal constitutions, would harm the state’s economy and educational institutions, and would prevent Hawaiians with family members in the six targeted countries from reuniting.

“Given that the new Executive Order began life as a ‘Muslim ban’, its implementation also means that the State will be forced to tolerate a policy that disfavors one religion and violates the Establishment Clauses of both the federal and state constitutions,” the proposed complaint states.

Hawaii’s lawsuit against the first travel ban had been placed on hold after another federal lawsuit filed by the state of Washington led to a national injunction upheld by the ninth circuit appeals court.

The new motion proposes a hearing on 15 March, a day before Trump’s revised travel ban goes into full effect. It also states that government attorneys tasked with defending the ban had no position on the request for an amended lawsuit.

It remains unclear whether other states that challenged Trump’s first ban will follow Hawaii’s lead. The Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said on Monday he was “carefully reviewing” the new order. As of Wednesday morning Ferguson had filed no new motions in the case.

The New York state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, also said on Monday he was “closely reviewing the new order” but has yet to announce any further action.

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