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Democrats move to challenge Trump's new travel ban in court

Democrats move to challenge Trump's new travel ban in court
A ruling by the federal judge in Seattle blocking President Donald Trump’s original travel ban should apply to the new measure as well, says the Washington state attorney general. New York, Oregon and Minnesota are joining the lawsuit as well.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday that he will ask Judge James Robart to extend his February 3 injunction against the original “Muslim ban” to the new executive order signed by Trump on Monday, which is scheduled to go into effect on March 16.

"We’re asserting that the president cannot unilaterally declare himself free of the court’s restraining order and injunction," Ferguson said at a news conference, according to Politico. “It’s our view that that temporary restraining order that we've already obtained remains in effect.”

Ferguson said his office is filing a motion asking Judge Robart to affirm that the existing injunction applies to parallel portions of the new executive order.

Trump’s March 6 order blocks citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days, citing an absence of adequate vetting procedures. The updated order does not apply to legal US permanent residents and contains other exemptions intended to address the objections in Robart’s original injunction. Ferguson, a Democrat, is having none of it, however.

"The intent behind the executive order targeting those Muslim countries still remains, and that is unconstitutional," he told NPR.

“The test is whether or not a motivating factor behind the travel ban was an improper religious bias against Muslims," Ferguson said. "That doesn't mean in some other context with immigration, he doesn't have broad powers. He does. But for this particular travel ban, he's going to run into this problem over and over again.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum – all Democrats – said they would join Ferguson in challenging the new travel ban.

“President Trump’s latest executive order is a Muslim ban by another name, imposing policies and protocols that once again violate the Equal Protection Clause and Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution,”Schneiderman said in a statement Thursday.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, also a Democrat, filed a separate lawsuit against the travel ban Tuesday, arguing it denied the right to an imam “to associate with family members overseas on the basis of their religion and national origin.”

Aiding in the lawsuit is Hogan Lovells, a Washington, DC law firm with ties to the Obama administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice will vigorously defend and enforce the new executive order, calling it a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority.

The DOJ filed a notice with Robart on Monday, saying that the new executive order fell outside the scope of the injunction against the January ban and “clarifies and narrows the scope of executive action regarding immigration, extinguishes the need for emergent consideration, and eliminates the potential constitutional concerns identified by the Ninth Circuit,” CNN reported.