Justice Department asks Seattle judge to defer action on Trump order

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks during a press conference at his office on February 9, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.
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The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday a Seattle federal judge should not conduct further proceedings until after a U.S. appeals court reviews the suspension of President Donald Trump's travel ban from seven-Muslim majority countries, according to a court document.

Trump's order, which he called a national security measure meant to head off attacks by Islamist militants, barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except refugees from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspended Trump's order after its legality was challenged by Washington state, eliciting a barrage of angry Twitter messages from Trump against the judge and the court system. That ruling was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last week, raising questions about Trump's next step.

An unidentified judge on the 9th Circuit on Friday requested that the courts 25 full-time judges vote on whether the temporary block of Trumps travel ban should be reheard before an 11-judge panel, known as en banc review. The 9th Circuit asked both sides to file briefs by Thursday.

The Justice Department did not say on Monday what position it would take on the 9th Circuit's en banc decision, but indicated that the outcome of the process "will likely inform" what additional proceedings are necessary in Seattle.

In a separate court filing on Monday, Washington's attorney general said a Seattle judge should immediately allow discovery into the merits of its case.

Robart has scheduled a hearing to take place on the issue later on Monday.