Washington: The Trump administration has moved the Supreme Court to block a federal judge's ruling that weakened the president's ban on travellers from six Muslim- majority nations by expanding the list of family relationships with US citizens that visa applicants can use to get into America.
In a filing before the US Supreme Court late Friday evening, the Department of Justice sought to overturn the ruling of a federal judge in Hawaii this week which sought to limit the number of people affected by the travel ban.
The Supreme Court is currently not in session, but can take emergency cases.
US District Judge Derrick Watson this week had ordered the Trump administration not to enforce the ban on grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the US.
"Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents," Watson said in his ruling.
Watson had also ruled that the government may not exclude refugees who have formal assurance from a resettlement agency in the US.
Opposing the Hawaii court ruling, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the district court has issued decisions that are entrusted to the executive branch, undermined national security, delayed necessary action, created confusion, and violated a proper respect for separation of powers.
"The Supreme Court has had to correct this lower court once, and we will now reluctantly return directly to the Supreme Court to again vindicate the rule of law and the executive branch's duty to protect the nation," Sessions said.
"Once again, we are faced with a situation in which a single federal district court has undertaken by a nationwide injunction to micromanage decisions of the co-equal executive branch related to our national security," he argued.
Sessions alleged that by its decision, the district court had "improperly substituted" its policy preferences for the national security judgements of the executive branch in a time of grave threats, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the executive branch and the directive of the Supreme Court.
Following Session's remarks, the Department of Justice approached the Supreme Court to overturn the Hawaii judge order.
The US Supreme Court had last month allowed a scaled- back version of the ban to go into effect before it hears the case in October, exempting visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a "bona fide" relationship with a US citizen.
The Supreme Court's ruling had allowed a 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on refugees to come into force.