The Trump administration told a federal appeals court Thursday it would rewrite its controversial travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries, effectively conceding defeat for now in the new president’s first major confrontation with the federal judiciary.
In a 61-page filing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Department lawyers strongly disagreed with a three-judge appellate panel’s decision to keep blocking the order’s enforcement while proceedings continue in a federal district court in Seattle. But the lawyers declined to ask the Ninth Circuit to convene a broader panel to reconsider the three judges’ decision.
“Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns,” the Justice Department told the court. “In so doing, the President will clear the way for immediately protecting the country rather than pursuing further, potentially time-consuming litigation.”
It was a sterile, formalistic admission of defeat—at least for now—in a separation-of-powers standoff that had consumed most of the new president’s first month in office. The order’s sudden, haphazard rollout on January 27, one week after President Trump’s inauguration, stranded travelers in airports and sparked protests at major U.S. airports as demonstrators and lawyers demanded their release from custody. Federal judges in multiple states eventually intervened at the request of the ACLU and immigrant-rights groups, blunting the order’s impact in a patchwork archipelago of temporary restraining orders.