Wash. AG declares victory in lawsuit against Trump's travel ban

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is declaring victory in his lawsuit against President Donald Trump's travel ban. Trump's administration said Thursday it will revise its travel ban order and does not want an appeals court review. 
Washington state was the first state to challenge the president's initial executive order on Jan. 30. A Seattle judge halted the ban that barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries and caused confusion at airports. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling to keep the travel ban blocked.
Since the appeals court ruling, the Trump administration has made comments on its next steps, but Thursday’s announcement is the most decisive. Essex Porter is following this story for a report on KIRO 7 News at 5 p.m. Watch on-air or here.
The administration said in a court filing that it will replace the travel ban with a new one in the near future. In a news conference that ran more than an hour on Thursday, Trump said that “the roll out [of the executive order] was perfect.” See the video above or here.

"We had a very smooth roll out of the travel ban, but we had a bad court ... got a bad decision," Trump told reporters. "We're going to keep going with that decision. We're gonna put in a new executive order next week sometime."

Hours later, Ferguson's office sent a news release to KIRO 7 News, declaring victory in his State v. Trump case.

"Let's be clear:  Today's court filing by the federal government recognizes the obvious — the President's current Executive Order violates the Constitution," Ferguson said. "President Trump could have sought review of this flawed Order in the Supreme Court but declined to face yet another defeat."

Trump's administration attacked the decision in Thursday's court filing, saying the three-judge panel from the appeals court misunderstood the scope of the order.

The decision came in a lawsuit brought by the states of Washington, which said the ban unconstitutionally blocked entry on the basis of religion and harmed their residents, universities and sales tax revenue. Judges also rejected the federal government's argument that courts do not have the authority to review the president's immigration and national security decisions.

Scroll down below for a timeline of events leading to to the announcement of a new travel ban. Under the timeline is an expanded Q&A on the case. 

What is Trump's travel ban?

The president signed an executive order on Jan. 27 that he said concerned "extreme vetting."

It barred any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States.

The president established a 120-day ban on refugees, and a 90-day ban on visitors from 7 predominately Muslim countries thought to be a security risk to the United States.

The order also directed U.S. officials to review information as needed to fully vet foreigners asking to come to the U.S. and draft a list of countries that don't provide that information. That left open the possibility that citizens of other countries could also face a travel ban.

How did the State of Washington get involved?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a complaint last week that asked the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare key provisions of the executive order unconstitutional and illegal.

Ferguson also filed a motion for temporary restraining order seeking an immediate halt to the executive order's implementation in the state and nationwide. Read a full explainer on the lawsuit here. 

KIRO 7 News’ Essex Porter was at the news conference when the attorney general argued that the executive order violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and the First Amendment’s establishment clause, infringes on individuals’ constitutional right to due process and contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

Oregon is supporting Washington state's lawsuit against Trump's executive order by signing a friend of the court brief in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals along with more than a dozen other states.

Related: Local tech giants willing to testify in AG's case against Trump's immigration ban

The states said Trump's travel ban harmed individuals, businesses and universities. Citing Trump's campaign promise to stop Muslims from entering the U.S., they said the ban unconstitutionally blocked entry to people based on religion.

What’s exactly did Robart’s ruling do?  

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart of Seattle issued a ruling last week granting the restraining order brought by the state of Washington. This means Robart’s decision temporarily halted Trump’s travel ban.

Robart’s decision did three things. First, it recognized that Washington and a second state that joined in the request, Minnesota, had standing to ask for a restraining order. In other words, they were being harmed by the ban, so they could ask a court for help.

>> Trump's immigration ban: What to know

Second, the ruling required that the section of the travel ban that called for a 90-day halt to immigration from the seven countries, and the section that called for an indefinite suspension of immigration from Syria be lifted.

Third, the order put a halt to prioritizing refugee claims of certain religious minorities. Read a full story on the ruling here.

How did the Trump administration try to overturn Robart’s ruling?

Just hours after Robart’s ruling, the White House said the Department of Justice would request an emergency stay. An emergency stay is the act of temporarily stopping a judicial proceeding through the order of a court.

The appellate court this weekend denied the Trump administration's request to immediately set aside Robart's ruling.

President Trump turned to Twitter to accuse James Robart, appointed by President George W. Bush, and lawmakers of stepping over the line that separates the executive from the judiciary. To Trump, Robart is a "so-called judge" whose "ridiculous" ruling "will be overturned."

On Monday, the Department of Justice filed a motion with the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- requesting President Donald Trump's travel ban be temporarily resumed pending the White House’s appeal.

Arguments over that motion were made on Tuesday.

What happened during the appeals court arguments?

Tuesday's arguments between Justice Department attorney August Flentje and Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell were conducted by phone. More than 27,000 people viewed KIRO 7 News' stream of the arguments on Facebook.

Three judges heard arguments Tuesday. What to know about those judges:

  • David Madden, a spokesman for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said the court's randomly assigned motions panel for this month will rule on the federal government's appeal.
  • The judges on the panel are Senior Judge William C. Canby Jr., appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980; Senior Judge Richard Clifton, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002; and Judge Michelle T. Friedland, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014.

The judges repeatedly asked Flentje whether the government had any evidence that the travel ban was necessary, or that keeping it on hold would harm national security. They expressed skepticism over his argument that the states don't have standing to sue, and over his assertion that the courts have little to no role in reviewing the president's determinations concerning national security.

Purcell faced tough questioning from Clifton, who said he wasn't necessarily buying the states' argument that the ban was motivated by religious discrimination, given that the vast majority of Muslims live in countries that aren't targeted by the ban.

KIRO 7 News’ Gary Horcher talked to an expert in constitutional law who said he believes Purcell had more winning punches than Flentje during the arguments.

What was decided? 

In a unanimous decision last week, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges upheld a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban.

The Trump Administration lost every major argument before the Appeals court.

The court said the administration failed to show that the order met constitutional requirements to provide notice or a hearing before restricting travel and presented no evidence that any foreigner from the seven countries was responsible for a terrorist attack in the U.S.

The court rejected the administration's claim that it did not have the authority to review the president's executive order.

The court decided the state can challenge the ban because of universities.

The ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals states :"According to declarations filed by the States, for example, two visiting scholars who had planned to spend time at Washington State University were not permitted to enter the United States; one was informed he would be unable to obtain a visa. Similarly, the University of Washington was in the process of sponsoring three prospective employees from countries covered by the Executive Order for visas; it had made plans for their arrival beginning in February 2017, but they have been unable to enter the United States."

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee says the federal appeals court's refusal to reinstate President Donald Trump's travel ban "is a victory for Washington state and indeed the entire country."

Donald Trump took to Twitter to say, "see you in court" after the ruling.

What has the Trump administration done since the ruling? 

Amid legal setback on President Donald Trump's travel ban, the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told The Washington Post last week that the White House is "reviewing all options in the court system," including possibly going to the Supreme Court.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he's considering signing a brand new order on immigration.

"We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order," he said. "We need speed for reasons of security. So it could very well be that we do that."

Nearly a week later came the news that Trump's administration filed court documents that said it does not want a larger appellate panel to review the ruling.

"In so doing, the president will clear the way for immediately protecting the country rather than pursuing further, potentially time-consuming litigation," the administration said in the filing.

Trump also spoke on the new executive order in a news conference, saying that it was a bad court decision that kept his initial travel ban from working.

NPR reports that Attorney General Ferguson is prepared to sue Trump again if he feels Washington state is harmed by White House actions.

Ferguson said in a statement a week ago that if Trump doesn't pull the executive order, he "will continue to hold him accountable to the Constitution."

What happens to the existing ban? 

Judge Robart in Seattle ruled in favor of the State of Washington’s request to allow proceedings to begin on the merits of the President Donald Trump's travel ban. So that portion of the case will go ahead at the district court level here in Seattle.

At issue will be the Attorney General’s claims that the travel ban discriminates based on religion and is therefore unconstitutional, also that it violated due process by suddenly excluding people who have legal permanent residents or who had valid visas to enter the country, and that it harms the state economically.

The state says it wants to move quickly to remove any uncertainty caused by the travel ban even though it is now blocked.

How does this impact travelers?

When Trump's travel ban was in place, it caused confusion for many foreigners trying to reach the United States. After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision, the ban is still halted.

Attorney General Ferguson said this means families waiting overseas can now fly to the United States.

“If someone who may be waiting to board a plane overseas, wanting to come to the United States, has a ticket, does this apply to them now? The short answer is yes,” said Ferguson.

After the travel ban was halted, Gov. Jay Inslee and Ferguson greeted a Somalia native who was scheduled to arrive in Seattle but instead was sent back to Vienna.

Stay with kiro7.com for updates on this developing story. Anytime a big development happens, we will send a push alert to our free news app. Download it here.