SEATTLE/SAN FRANCISCO A U.S. federal judge on
Monday rejected a Justice Department request to suspend Seattle
courtroom proceedings over President Donald Trump’s temporary
travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries until an appeals
court has fully reviewed it.
The U.S. Justice Department had argued that the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals should review the nationwide suspension
of Trump’s order before more proceedings take place, including
potential discovery into the president’s motives for the action.
Trump’s Jan. 27 order, which he called a national security
measure meant to head off attacks by Islamist militants, barred
people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen
from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except
refugees from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspended
Trump’s entire order across the country on Feb. 3 after its
legality was challenged by Washington state, eliciting a barrage
of angry Twitter messages from Trump against the judge and the
court system. That ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit in San
Francisco last week, raising questions about Trump’s next step.
At a Seattle court hearing on Monday, Robart said he saw no
reason to slow down the case, adding he was “surprised” the
Justice Department would seek a delay given Trump’s angry tweets
over the 9th Circuit ruling. Robart ordered both sides to
prepare to move forward.
Separately, a Virginia federal judge on Monday issued a
preliminary injunction against portions of Trump’s order that
dealt with visa holders. That has no immediate effect as Trump’s
ban has already been suspended by Robart’s Feb. 3 ruling.
Following the 9th Circuit’s decision, Trump announced the
possibility of a “brand new order” that could be issued as soon
as this week. Trump gave no details of any new ban he is
He might rewrite the original order to explicitly exclude
green card holders, or permanent residents, a congressional aide
familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified, told
Reuters last week.
Neither side discussed any new executive order at the Monday
court hearing. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told
reporters the administration would “maintain all options”
regarding the legal strategy, including another order.
An unidentified judge on the 9th Circuit on Friday requested
that the court’s 25 full-time judges vote on whether the
temporary block of Trump’s travel ban should be reheard before
an 11-judge panel, known as en banc review. The 9th Circuit
asked both sides to file briefs by Thursday.
The Justice Department did not say on Monday what position
it would take on the 9th Circuit’s en banc decision, or whether
it would ultimately appeal the suspension to the Supreme Court.
In a court filing on Monday, Washington’s attorney general
said a Seattle judge should immediately allow discovery into the
merits of its case.
“We would oppose discovery,” Justice Department attorney
Michelle Bennett said at the hearing, which was conducted on a
teleconference played aloud in Robart’s courtroom in Seattle.
In ruling from the bench, Robart did not make clear what the
next steps in Seattle would be. (Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in Washington)
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