Trump loses another round in appeal of immigration executive order

I know this only has peripheral connection to the City Council (though they are watching the case very closely), but for the late-night crowd I thought I’d throw in a recap of the latest round in the battle between the State of Washington and the Trump administration over the President’s immigration executive order.

Trump lost another battle in front of the appeals court today.

If you recall, U.S. District Court Judge Robart issued an emergency stay on Trump’s executive order. After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 3-judge panel denied the Trump administration’s emergency appeal of Robart’s order,  the appeals court began its own internal process to decide whether to hear the case en banc, i.e. in front of the entire 9th Circuit. On February 16th, the feds got the court to pause that process by claiming that the President was about to re-issue the executive order.  But the “long version” of the government’s appeal is still pending in front of the 3-judge panel. Last Friday they tried the same tactic, filing a “motion to hold the proceedings in abeyance” because the President was going to re-issue the executive order. The State of Washington opposed the motion, noting that the White House (both Trump directly and press secretary Sean Spicer) had said that they intended to continue the appeal in the 9th Circuit.

Today, in a terse order, the 3-judge panel denied the Trump Administration’s motion to hold the proceedings in abeyance. They did, however, give the federal government a little more time, extending the deadline for the first brief from March 3rd to March 10th. That’s probably a respectful way of saying “You’re clearly having trouble getting that new executive order done; if you do manage it, then this case is almost certainly moot and we don’t want to waste our time on it. But since you’re blustering to the press about how you’re still pursuing the appeal, you’d better pick a heading and start rowing.”

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s brief is a fun read; it points out that the White House and the DOJ seem to be having trouble getting on the same page. It also points out that the feds keep claiming that this is an urgent issue of national security, but then asking for delays in litigating the case.

If the Trump administration does, as rumored, get a new executive order done this week that supersedes the old one, this whole process gets unwound and starts from the beginning again.  Though even today Spicer was still saying the government will continue to defend the first executive order; either the new one doesn’t involve rescinding the old one, or Spicer doesn’t understand that you can’t have an injunction on an executive order that no longer exists.