Hawai‘i Files Lawsuit Against President Trump

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President Donald Trump’s official portrait from Wikimedia Commons.

Hawai‘i Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that the state of Hawai‘i has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump in Hawai‘i federal court.

The lawsuit filed today asks the court to block implementation of the Jan. 27, 2017, executive order signed by President Trump entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

The order restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. It suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. It grants entry preferences to minority religions. This order is the beginning of the fulfillment of President Trump’s campaign pledge to implement a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”


“What makes our country special and a beacon across the world is its inclusive democracy and the rule of law,” Attorney General Chin said. “Everyone in the United States, including the president, must follow the law and follow the Constitution.”

The complaint alleges several causes of action:

  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it favors one religion over another in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment;
  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it denies equal protection of the law on the basis of national origin;
  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it curtails the right to travel without any legal justification;
  • The Executive Order is unconstitutional because it deprives individuals of their liberty interests without due process of law; and
  • The Executive Order is illegal because it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Hawai‘i’s papers filed today asked the court to block the order across the country.


As the state’s memo argues:

Hawai‘i joins the many voices that have condemned the order. But this pleading is not about politics or rhetoric—it is about the law. The simple fact is that the order is unlawful. By banning Muslims and creating a preference for Christian refugees, the order violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. By those same acts, it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment. By failing utterly to provide procedures or protections of any kind for people detained or turned away at our airports, it violates the Due Process Clause. And by enshrining rank discrimination on the basis of nationality and religion, it flies in the face of statutes enacted by Congress.

Hawai‘i has asked for a hearing on its motion for a temporary restraining order in no more than 14 days.


“Hawaii is an island state,” Attorney General Chin added. “This illegal order affects our state in a unique way. Under this order, an Iraqi permanent resident on the mainland U.S. cannot leave the country without the risk of never being allowed to return, but he still can travel throughout the continental United States. That same person here cannot so much as visit another island within our state for fear of being detained by federal agents at the airport. In the past, the people of this state experienced discrimination by the federal government based on national origin. We must speak up and not let this happen again.”

Assisting the state of Hawai‘i in the litigation is Neal Kumar Katyal, Esq., former Acting Solicitor General of the United States during the Obama Administration. He is currently a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Hogan Lovells and a law professor at Georgetown University.

Copies of the complaint, motion for a temporary restraining order, and memorandum in support of the motion for a temporary restraining order can be downloaded below:

Doc. 1 complaint
Doc. 2 TRO
Doc. 2 TRO Doc. 1 complaint. Doc. 2-1 Memo in Supp. TRO

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