The state of Washington is urging a federal judge to rule that an order blocking enforcement of President Trump's first executive order on travel should apply to the revised version that takes effect later this month.
The White House cannot evade the court's injunction "simply by reissuing the same basic policies in a new form," said the state's attorney general, Bob Ferguson.
"Courts do not issue injunctive relief in a game of whack-a-mole, forced to start anew at a defendant's whim."
But the Trump administration told Federal District Court Judge James Robart in Seattle that the government intends to begin enforcing the new order when it takes effect because the revised version eliminates the legal problems created by the original one.
Put simply, the Justice Department said in a court filing that the injunction issued by Judge Robart on Feb. 3 "does not limit the government's ability to immediately begin enforcing the new executive order."
Judge Robart on Friday night said in an order that there is no pending motion regarding the injunction — the Justice Department filed a notice and the state of Washington filed a response — and said he would not rule on the matter until a motion is filed.
While Washington, joined by Minnesota and Oregon, fights to extend the original injunction, Hawaii has filed a lawsuit of its own to challenge the new executive order.
New York and Massachusetts said they will seek to join the Washington case, which would bring to six the number of states challenging the president's plan to temporarily restrict travel from six predominately Muslim countries.
Justice Department lawyers argued that the revised executive order is substantially different. It features a case-by-case waiver process that allows people to seek visas from the six countries while the travel restrictions are in place.
That provision satisfies any potential legal claim that a U.S. citizen could make in seeking the entry of a foreign national, the government said.
The revised order, unlike the original one, does not apply to green-card holders or anyone inside the U.S. with a valid visa. And it no longer gives priority to refugees of certain religions.
But Washington said Trump's own aides have called the new order "the same basic policy."
"While the provisions differ slightly from their original incarnation, the differences do not remove them from the ambit of this court's injunction," the state's lawyers said in Thursday's brief filed with the judge.
The state said the travel restrictions still amount to the ban on Muslim travel that Trump promised to deliver during the campaign.
The judge in Hawaii has set a hearing for March 15 on the state's request for an order blocking enforcement of the new order, which takes effect March 16.