ACLU dismisses Boston lawsuit on Trump’s travel ban

President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., Monday, March 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP
President Donald Trump.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit it filed in federal court in Boston that challenged President Trump’s Jan. 27 travel ban, one of the first court challenges in the country that brought an immediate, though temporary, halt to the president’s order.

Matthew Segal, the ACLU’s legal director in Massachusetts, said in a prepared statement that the organization would redirect its resources to other challenges of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. He praised the plaintiffs in the case for their willingness to join the litigation.

“We are now shifting fronts in the battle against the Trump Administration’s unjust actions,” Segal said. “As pioneers of freedom here in Massachusetts, we will continue to work every day in the courts, in the state Legislature, and in our communities to defend and preserve liberty and justice for all.”


Attorney General Maura Healey, whose office had joined the Boston lawsuit, withdrew from the complaint earlier month and joined other states in a similar suit in Washington.

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The ACLU’s lawsuit here was originally filed on behalf of two University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professors, both lawful permanent residents from Iran, who were detained at Logan International Airport the day after the president’s first ban went into effect. The two were later released.

The ACLU had won an emergency restraining order in a middle-of-the-night hearing that led activists to urge people affected by the ban to fly into Boston, because it was one of the few airports in the country protected by a restraining order.

But on Feb. 3., US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton refused to extend the temporary restraining order. Hours after Gorton’s decision, however, a federal judge in Seattle issued a restraining order that applied nationwide to halt the ban, making the Boston case moot.

A federal appeals court later upheld the Seattle judge’s decision, which led the administration to issue a new order March 6. That order, which was slated to take effect March 16, has also been temporarily halted by courts in Maryland and Hawaii.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.