Administration seeks to postpone district court proceedings on travel ban

Administration seeks to postpone district court proceedings on travel ban
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration is seeking to delay district court proceedings on the president’s travel ban until after an appeals court decides whether to rehear the case, suggesting that the government may not ask the Supreme Court to step in just yet.

A three-judge panel on the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit decided last Thursday not to reinstate Trump’s executive action on immigration and refugees while the policy works its way through the legal system, refusing to halt a lower court's stay on the order.

But an unknown 9th Circuit judge has requested that the entire appeals court vote whether to rehear the case through “en banc” review. That process would task an 11-judge panel to review the case and could result in another hearing. A majority of the active judges would need to agree to review the case.

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The 9th Circuit asked both the defendants and plaintiffs to file briefs by this Thursday about whether they think the case should be heard en banc.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking that proceedings in the lower court be postponed until the appeals court decides whether to rehear the case.

“Further proceedings in the 9th Circuit will likely inform what additional proceedings on a preliminary injunction motion are necessary in court,” the DOJ said. “Accordingly, at this time, defendants believe the appropriate course is to postpone any further proceedings in the district court.”

The move signals that the administration may be ruling out immediately appealing to the Supreme Court — at least for now.

There were mixed signals on Friday about whether the White House would appeal to the high court or defend the policy on its merits in district court in Seattle. A federal judge there had put Trump’s travel ban on a temporary hold while the legal case against it proceeds.

Trump has also hinted that he may be signing a “brand new” executive order this week, though he continued to say that they would fight for the policy in district court.