The Trump Administration legal team signaled on Wednesday that it will soon pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court to defend the presidential order limiting immigration of foreign nationals from six Mideast nations.
The plan was disclosed as Administration lawyers asked a federal trial judge in Detroit to put on hold a lawsuit there about the same order – a case that currently focuses on attempts to force the disclosure of a potentially significant Trump presidential campaign document.
The new filing in Detroit argued that, since the dispute over the immigration order “will soon be on appeal to the Supreme Court,” the judge should delay that other case until two weeks after the Justices have taken final action on the appeal. The appeal will be from last week’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit temporarily barring the government from enforcing the immigration restrictions.
The government lawyers did not specify just when they would file papers at the Supreme Court, but the failure to do so promptly could lead the challengers who sued in the Detroit case to complain to the judge that the new postponement request was merely a delaying tactic.
The challengers to the Trump immigration order have been energetic in pressing their case, including making sweeping demands to get access to Trump campaign documents to help bolster their argument that the immigration order was intended to be the “Muslim ban” that Donald Trump had called for while running for the presidency.
The initial demand for a document is aimed at a memo that President Trump and others have said was prepared by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, an adviser during the campaign. That memo, requested by the president as he sought a way to defend a Mideast travel ban without focusing on religion, recommend that Trump as president aim the restrictions at specific nations. That is what Trump did after taking office, in both the original executive order and in a revised version. The revised version is the one now in dispute in the courts.
If the Detroit judge, U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts, declines to postpone the Detroit case altogether while the Supreme Court ponders the government appeal, the Trump team asked for more time to counter the challengers’ document demands. The Trump legal team has already vigorously contested any order to hand over the Giuliani memo.
The indication that the appeal to the Justices may come soon may also be a sign that the government lawyers do not plan to hold off on starting that process until after there is a decision from another federal appeals court that is considering a challenge to the revised executive order.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard that other case, which originated in Hawaii, on May 15, but has given no indication of when it will rule. Technically, the government does not have to await that decision before filing papers in the Supreme Court in the Fourth Circuit case, which originated in Maryland.