Trump's Laptop Ban Is Proof His Hands Aren't Tied, Hawaii Says

  • Hawaii won a court order blocking Trump’s travel ban
  • Several states claim the travel directive is discriminatory

Hawaii’s attorney general says new U.S. government rules prohibiting the use of laptops and other electronic gadgets on flights from eight Muslim-majority nations prove that President Donald Trump’s control of immigration and national security isn’t hampered by the state’s lawsuit over his travel ban.

The ban on large electronic devices, announced Tuesday, failed to trigger widespread condemnation and litigation the way Trump’s March 6 executive order against travel from six Muslim-majority countries did. Several states, citing Trump’s comments about Muslims on the campaign trail, claim the travel ban has a discriminatory intent.

Douglas Chin

Photographer: Kent Nishimura/AFP via Getty Image

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin said in court papers Saturday that the easy implementation of the laptop policy belies any claim that Trump’s “hands are tied” by litigation seeking to overturn the travel ban on the grounds that it discriminates against Islam.

“Policies like that one, justified with respect to a particular (even if unspecified) new threat, implemented without accompanying statements of animus towards Islam, and in harmony with Congressional policies and the policies of our allies, raise no constitutional concerns," Neal Katyal, a lawyer for Hawaii, said in the filing.

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland barred enforcement of Trump’s travel ban, while a judge in Virginia on Friday declined to do so. An earlier travel ban signed in January was blocked by a federal appeals court, leading Trump to issue what he called a “watered down” version this month.

Second Ban

The second travel ban removed Iraq from the list of affected countries and clarified that citizens of those nations who had already received visas could enter. It also spelled out the reasons for the ban more clearly.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing Friday that Hawaii hasn’t offered sufficient evidence to extend its temporary restraining order against the ban into a longer-lasting preliminary injunction. The administration also cited the favorable ruling by the Virginia federal judge in its argument.

In its filing, the government points to a Maryland district court’s decision to ban only one section of the 15-page travel ban, while highlighting Friday’s ruling that the president’s revised travel order appears to fall within the president’s authority.

If the court does issue a preliminary injunction, the next step in permanently halting the order, the Justice Department has asked that it be limited to the 90-day travel ban affecting the six mostly Muslim countries. A 120-day ban on refugee admissions should be allowed to stay in place, the government said.

The case is State of Hawaii v. Donald J. Trump, 17-cv-00050, U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (Honolulu).

— With assistance by Kartikay Mehrotra

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