A federal appeals court set a date for the next showdown in President Donald J. Trump’s blocked travel ban, ordering oral arguments to be held May 8 in Richmond, Va.
Opponents of the temporary travel ban asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to push the case back, leading to the possibility of an extended wait, and drama stretching into September.
But a court order Thursday accelerated the timeline, with lawyers for the Trump administration volunteering to submit their opening written arguments by Friday.
The Justice Department said the appeal is a matter of national security, as lawyers defending the travel ban pressed for federal judges to hear the case before the court’s summer recess.
The case, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Donald J. Trump, halted the president’s second travel ban to six Muslim-majority countries, hours after a similar ruling in Hawaii put a nation-wide temporary stop on the president’s executive order.
The appeal will be heard by a three-judge panel, with the losing side able to re-hear the case before all 15 judges serving on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Instead of a re-hearing before all the appeals judges, lawyers could instead petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring will join Maryland counterpart Attorney General General Brian Frosh to file an amicus brief in support of the refugee group.
"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 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 appeal's announcement, 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 the Fourth Circuit.
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. "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."
Members of the public will be allowed to attend the travel ban oral arguments, set for 1 p.m. May 8 at the federal appeals court in downtown Richmond.