The Justice Department on Friday filed its formal notice of appeal to a federal judge's decision to block the Trump administration from enforcing its latest travel ban.
Department lawyers filed the notice in federal district court in Maryland, writing that they intended to appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The notice is the first step in taking the case to a higher court. The Justice Department also asked the 4th Circuit to stay the judge's ruling blocking the ban on an expedited timetable — with the last filings due on that issue Oct. 26.
Justice Department lawyers argued the federal judge in Maryland was "wrong," and his ruling "threatens to disable the President permanently from addressing immigration-related national-security risks in countries that pose the greatest concern."
Two federal judges, one in Maryland and the other in Hawaii, have blocked the administration from enforcing President Trump's latest travel ban, his third attempt at barring entry to people from certain countries around the world.
The measure, if allowed to go into effect, would have banned various immigrants and travelers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. Now the administration can only apply the ban to North Korea and Venezuela — which makes it of little consequence. Very few people travel to the United States from North Korea each year, and the directive only bars certain government officials from Venezuela.
The Justice Department has not yet filed a notice of appeal in the Hawaii case.
To get the ban fully into effect, the Justice Department will have to run the table — winning in both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit for the Maryland case and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for the Hawaii case. Both appellate courts ruled against the administration in legal disputes over the second version of Trump's travel ban.
The Supreme Court, however, vacated the 4th Circuit precedent in that case after a key portion of the previous ban expired, and it is possible the same fate could befall the 9th Circuit precedent after Oct. 24, when another portion of the ban dealing with refugees ends.
In the Maryland case, U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang decided that even the latest version of Trump's travel ban effectively amounted to an unconstitutional Muslim ban, and he cited Trump's own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter as evidence. He blocked the administration from enforcing the measure on people with a "bona fide" tie to the United States from six of the eight affected countries.
U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson had earlier blocked the administration from enforcing the measure on anyone from those six countries, not just those with bona fide U.S. ties. He found that Trump had likely exceeded his lawful authority to set entry restrictions.