Law School Case Brief
Trump v. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project - 137 S. Ct. 2080 (2017)
Crafting a preliminary injunction is an exercise of discretion and judgment, often dependent as much on the equities of a given case as the substance of the legal issues it presents. The purpose of such interim equitable relief is not to conclusively determine the rights of the parties, but to balance the equities as the litigation moves forward. In awarding a preliminary injunction a court must also consider the overall public interest. In the course of doing so, a court need not grant the total relief sought by the applicant but may mold its decree to meet the exigencies of the particular case.
Executive Order No. 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, altered practices concerning the entry of foreign nationals into the United States by, among other things, suspending entry of nationals from six designated countries for 90 days. Respondents challenged the order in two separate lawsuits. They obtained preliminary injunctions barring enforcement of several of its provisions, including the 90-day suspension of entry. The injunctions were upheld in large measure by a federal courts of appeals. The Government filed separate petitions for certiorari, as well as applications to stay the preliminary injunctions entered by the lower courts.
Were the preliminary injunctions entered by the lower courts valid?
The Court held that orders issued by lower courts, which enjoined enforcement of Exec. Order No. 13780, §§ 2(c) and 6(a) and (b), 82 Fed. Reg. 13209, were valid to the extent they barred the U.S. Government from prohibiting foreign nationals who had a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States from entering the United States while the Government reviewed its policies on allowing citizens and refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries to enter the United States. The Government's interest in enforcing Exec. Order No. 13780 was at its peak when there was no tie between a foreign national or a refugee and the United States, and the lower courts' orders enjoining the Government from enforcing §§ 2(c) and 6(a) and (b) against citizens and refugees who did not have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States would be stayed.
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