As was expected, President Trump signed a new executive order this morning that tweaked his old travel ban into a new, supposedly less chaotic form. Where the old executive order banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, the new one bans citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, excluding Iraqis and green card-holders. The new order's ban on Syrian refugees is now a temporary 120-day one, subject to review and renewal.
So what does the new travel ban mean for the Washington Attorney General's landmark lawsuit against the Trump administration?
In February, Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office managed to block the rollout of the old travel ban nationwide. But even though the lawsuit halted the old order, arguments about its constitutionality—including a religious discrimination claim—were meant to continue in federal court. Will Ferguson sue Trump again on the same principles, or allow the new order to stand?
The Attorney General released a brief statement this morning promising further information later today:
By rescinding his earlier Executive Order, President Trump makes one thing perfectly clear: His original travel ban was indefensible — legally, constitutionally and morally.
The President has capitulated on numerous key provisions blocked by our lawsuit, including bans on Green Card holders, visa holders and dual citizens, an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, and explicit preferences based on religion.
We are carefully reviewing the new Executive Order to determine its impacts on Washington State and our next legal steps.
UPDATE, 12:55 PM: In a press conference this afternoon, Ferguson said he has “made absolutely no decision…not even close” about whether Washington State will again sue the president over the new travel ban.
The differences between the old and new travel ban—including the fact that green card holders and dual citizens will now be allowed to enter the country—are “profound” and “will have significant impacts,” Ferguson said.
But the attorney general said he remains concerned about one of the pillars of his original case against the feds: that the intent behind the travel ban is discriminatory against Muslims.
“Yes, this is the new order, but there’s a continuation here,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said he and the civil rights lawyers in his office will spend the next two to three days analyzing the new ban and deciding on their next legal move, “especially focused” on whether the motives behind the ban are discriminatory. A key component of Washington’s original case against the ban was that it would hurt businesses and universities in the state. The University of Washington, Amazon, and Expedia were among those who signed declarations in support of the case against the travel ban. Ferguson said today his office will be discussing with those same businesses and universities whether this new ban could do the same harm. Ferguson said he expects to announce a decision about whether his office will bring a new case against Trump later this week. The new ban will take effect on March 16.
“I do not take lightly suing the president of the United States,” Ferguson said. “I don’t want to make a rash decision.”
The existing case, meanwhile, remains in limbo. Solicitor General Noah Purcell said it is not yet clear what will happen with the existing case. Assistant Attorney General Colleen Melody said the Trump Administration has indicated in U.S. District Court filings that “they view this as a new ball game and intend to implement the new executive corder on the 16th at 12:01 [am].” (HEIDI GROOVER)
UPDATE, 2 PM: In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee repeated the Attorney General's framing that Washington State's lawsuit against Trump had "forced [the president] into retreat." Still, Inslee stressed that the new order—despite some concessions—was not "in keeping with the basic and core values of this country." The governor lent his support to AG Bob Ferguson, whose team is closely reviewing the new executive order before making a decision on whether to sue.
Inslee, who has often delivered colorful criticisms of Trump, also had some choice words for the president, calling him "erratic" and "unhinged."
"We just repeatedly see the president going off on unprovoked, un-thoughtful, unplanned actions that do nothing but cause division, uncertainty, and anxiety—even amongst his own team," Inslee said. "It's got to be one of the worst jobs in America right now, working for President Trump."
Inslee then blasted members of the media who warmed to Trump after his address to Congress, criticizing the shift as "a new love affair" when all the president had to do was "go to Congress and read a teleprompter for 40 minutes."
Angry Jay is the best Jay.