The Trump administration is appealing the broadest judicial order currently blocking President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban directive.
The Justice Department filed a formal notice Thursday appealing U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson’s preliminary injunction suspending Trump’s executive order that sought to halt the issuance of visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries and held up refugee admissions from across the globe.
Watson issued the injunction Wednesday after a court hearing in Honolulu on Wednesday on a suit brought by the State of Hawaii and a local Muslim leader. Earlier in the month, the Obama-appointed judge had issued a temporary restraining order that prevented Trump from instituting much of his directive, which had been intended to kick in on March 16.
The appeal will go to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Last month, a three-judge panel of that court declined to overturn a Seattle-based judge’s order blocking key parts of Trump’s original travel ban order.
The administration said in a separate court filing Thursday that it will seek to expedite the appeal at the 9th Circuit. However, some legal experts believe the Justice Department deliberately slowed litigation in the Hawaii case in order to try to get the issue in front of a three-judge panel set to go on duty starting Saturday.
The Justice Department is also appealing a Maryland-based judge’s ruling blocking a single aspect of Trump’s revised order: the six-country visa ban. That appeal is pending at the Richmond-based 4th Circuit, which is considering whether to take the case directly to the court’s full bench.
Minutes after filing the new appeal Thursday, Justice Department attorneys moved to shut down the information-gathering discovery process in the Seattle case, involving six states challenging Trumps’ revised order. The federal government lawyers say the records and testimony the states are seeking will intrude on presidential decision-making and should be put on hold until the 9th Circuit rules in the Hawaii case.
“Plaintiffs intend to seek sweeping and invasive discovery, to which Defendants will object on numerous grounds,” the Justice Department wrote. “Proceeding in the absence of such guidance [from the appeals court] would be inefficient, waste the resources of the Court and the parties, and potentially result in inconsistent rulings.”
The Justice Department motion paints the discovery effort as a potential morass that may prove unnecessary or excessive, depending on the 9th Circuit ruling.
“According to Plaintiffs, they intend to seek discovery — including electronically stored information — regarding the factual basis, intent, design, issuance and effects of both executive orders,” Justice lawyers wrote. “Plaintiffs indicated a desire to probe the motivations for issuing the executive orders; the consultative process leading to their issuance; email communications among Defendants and third parties; drafts of the executive orders and related documents; communications about implementation of the orders; and databases with information on potentially affected aliens and visa applications. … Plaintiffs believe the relevant time period for discoverable information is June 16, 2015 — the date Donald Trump declared his presidential candidacy — to the present.”
The Trump administration is arguing that no discovery is or will be appropriate in the case.
Justice Department lawyers also filed a parallel motion Thursday seeking to suspend court action in another federal suit in Seattle, brought by private individuals who say they are affected by Trump’s executive actions.