Opponents of President Donald Trump's ban on travellers from six mainly Muslim countries are urging the Supreme Court to leave in place a federal judge's order that would relax restrictions on entry into the United States.
In a high court filing Tuesday, the lead challengers have argued that the administration's argument in favour of a broader travel ban that includes grandparents and grandchildren as well as other relatives is ''nonsense''. Up to 24,000 refugees could be affected by the Supreme Court's decision.
More than 40 former US officials, including former Republican Sen Richard Lugar of Indiana, former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and Leon Panetta, filed a separate legal brief in support of loosening the ban.
The administration is appealing a ruling from US District Judge Derrick Watson that requires the government to allow in refugees formally working with a resettlement agency in the United States. Watson also vastly expanded the family relations that refugees and visitors can use to get into the country (See: Trump appeals to SC against dilution of travel ban).
Last month, the justices allowed the administration to partially reinstate a 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on refugees from anywhere in the world.
But the court's ruling exempted a large swath of refugees and travellers with a ''bona fide relationship'' with a person or an entity in the US. The justices did not define those relationships but said they could include a close relative, as well as those with a job offer or admission to a college or university.
The Trump administration then defined the relationships as people who had a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the US.
It also said that refugee resettlement agencies didn't count because their relationships are with the government, not the refugees.
But Hawaii and other travel plan opponents went back to court to seek a broader list of relations and groups that might be used to allow people to get into the country.
Watson issued his order last week, including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. He also included charitable and religious groups that are working to resettle refugees in the U.S.
The justices already have scheduled arguments about the travel ban for October. They could rule anytime on the rules for enforcing the ban.