Washington state will seek a restraining order against President Trump's revamped travel ban — a move which could foreshadow a potential legal showdown between the administration and a wave of challenges to the controversial executive order.
Minnesota, which is already part of the challenge, Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York will also seek to join with other states looking to lend their voices to the effort in upcoming days, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday during a press conference.
Washington state will ask U.S. District Court Senior Judge James L. Robart to apply the temporary injunction he issued last month on Trump's initial executive order to the newly revised travel ban. The state believes that tweaks to the travel ban do not get around the previous restraining order.
"It's my duty, my responsibility to act," Ferguson said. "We're not going to be bullied by threats and actions by the federal government."
He added later, "You can't tweet your way out of the rule of law."
The Trump administration has argued that the new executive order is distinct and remedies any potential legal vulnerabilities from the original ban. On Monday, a senior Justice Department official told NBC News that they still believe the decisions against the original executive order were "misguided."
Washington state's announcement comes just one day after Hawaii became the first state to sue Trump over the revised travel ban.
In its lawsuit, Hawaii claims the new executive order will harm its economy by reducing international travel and tourism. The state's universities and private employers "will be unable to recruit or to welcome qualified individuals from the six designated countries."
Hawaii, which said it is the nation's most ethnically diverse state, also says its residents who have immediate family members living in the affected countries are now blocked from receiving visits from their relatives.
The state claims the new order "has the effect of disfavoring Islam," in violation of the Constitution.
The Trump administration has yet to respond. But in earlier court filings, the government anticipated some of these arguments. The Justice Department said the new executive order contains "a robust waiver provision," allowing exceptions to the 90-day ban on entry to the U.S. from six countries.
"That case-by-case process plainly satisfies any possible due process requirements," the administration argued, when a U.S. citizen, company, or university seeks the entry of someone overseas.
A hearing on the suit is set for March 15 — the day before Trump's revised travel ban is scheduled to go into effect.
The original executive order, which Trump signed late last month, barred entry for 90 days for nationals of Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. It also stopped refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and indefinitely suspended all Syrian refugee entry.
The revamped order issued Monday removed Iraq from the list of barred countries. It also lifted the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria, instead issuing a 120-day suspension of all refugee entry and limiting the total number of refugees allowed entry in 2017 to 50,000.
At a press conference on Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended the revised order.
"To our allies and partners around the word, please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamic terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends," Tillerson said.