Trump travel ban case to proceed in lower court, judge rules

Washington State's case against President Trump's immigration ban will move forward. That was the ruling by federal Judge James Robart, even while his earlier ruling may still be appealed to a higher level.

SEATTLE - A Federal judge in Seattle said the lawsuit against President Donald Trump's travel ban should proceed in lower court, siding with lawyers for Washington state and Minnesota.

The Justice Department, in its own court filing, wanted the case put on hold while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether the appeal will be reheard "en banc," or before an eleven judge panel of the court.

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld Judge Robart's February 3 ruling that halted the President's immigration executive order nationwide. 

However, both sides must file briefs to the 9th Circuit by Thursday, detailing why or why not the decision should be reheard. 

Related: What is 'en banc'?

Separate from the appeals process, Seattle U.S. District Judge Robart ruled to move forward with the full case on the merits, after taking part in status conference via telephone Monday afternoon. Attorneys for both sides argued their positions as to how quickly the lower court case should proceed. 

Colleen Melody, arguing on behalf of the Washington State Attorney General's Office argued the case should move forward without delay, given the "urgency of this case." 

Michelle Bennett, arguing on behalf of the Department of Justice, questioned why the case should "move faster than a normal case."

"We don't think they've shown basis for that," Bennett told Robart by phone, arguing that plaintiffs are not being harmed since the temporary restraining order remains in place. 

"I'm surprised to hear you say that," Robart responded, before referencing one of Trump's tweets last week. "The President said he wanted to 'see you in court.'"

Related: Jayapal first bill in response to immigration order

"I am not persuaded that call for 'en banc' review from one judge ought to interfere with moving this case forward," Robart later said during his concluding remarks. "I'm not prepared to slow this down." 

He then directed both parties to proceed in preparation for the larger case, a process that will include discovery. 

"We’d be asking for documentation, emails, depositions of key administration officials to get behind why they issued this particular order; what was the national security interest they were referring to, and why did it have to be done in the way it was done," Attorney General Bob Ferguson told KING 5 last week. 

When asked whether that could include a deposition of the President, Ferguson responded, "I don't want to get ahead of our team." 

"I will keep all my options open, and use all the tools I have to make sure the president follows the Constitution," he said.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on their immediate next steps. Trump administration officials have only said they're keeping all their legal options on the table. 

The Trump administration has not filed an official appeal of the panel's ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court or an appellate panel. 

VIDEO: One-on-one with AG Bob Ferguson

The Associated Press contributed.

Copyright 2017 KING


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