Justice Department officials filed paperwork to send the Trump Administration's travel ban appeal to Richmond, Va. Friday, delivering the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The lawsuit, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, will likely be heard before a three judge panel, with opening briefs due April 26. A date for oral arguments has not yet been set.
The move means the First Amendment and national security arguments will be heard in Virginia, before either side can take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring will join with Maryland and file an amicus brief, supporting the refugee program that initially challenged the travel ban.
"Despite President Trump's attempts to scale back his Muslim ban, the courts have still seen this harmful, unconstitutional and deeply un-American ban for exactly what it is," Herring and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in a joint statement. "We are already collaborating on a brief in opposition to the ban that we plan to file jointly in the Fourth Circuit."
Herring visited the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church hours after the announcement Friday, telling the congregation he will defend the rights of all Virginians.
"In this case, there's a mountain of evidence that these travel bans were done based on religious discrimination," Herring said. "Virginia is no stranger to landmark cases, and this will be no different."
Herring has taken on prominent roles in the federal marriage equality and transgender bathroom cases, both of which passed through Richmond's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lawyers for the president argue the White House has the authority to temporarily halt immigration from nations deemed threatening to national security.
Congregants at Dar Al-Hijrah said the ban creates a trickle down effect, embodied by a letter threatening violence sent to the mosque in late February.
"I've experienced bigotry and discrimination as well, close by," said Merehan Elhady of the Muslim American Society in an interview Friday. "I've had it at a local grocery store. So, I mean, you do what you have to do. You file a police report, and you take the correct measures."
The appeal could be heard in Virginia as early as the three day window of May 9-11. The judges then break for the summer, returning Sept. 12.