President-elect Donald Trump. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP) President-elect Donald Trump. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed Thursday to expedite a challenge to President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order, setting oral arguments in the case for May 8 at the court in Richmond.

The government appealed a Maryland U.S. district court’s order last week that blocked a portion of the president’s March 6 executive order restricting travel from six majority-Muslim countries. On Wednesday, the Justice Department requested the court expedite the briefing schedule for the appeal, arguing that lower courts and the Ninth Circuit all expedited litigation surrounding both the March 6 executive order and the first order, now revoked, which was issued Jan. 28.

The government had also indicated in its request to expedite the process that it intends to file a motion to stay the injunction pending appeal. According to the court’s schedule, the government plans to file that motion Friday. The plaintiff’s response will be due March 31, with the government’s reply due April 5.

The government said the issue is “of national importance” and has national security implications, making it worthy of a speedy schedule. According to the filing, the plaintiffs disagreed with the government’s proposed schedule, and requested a May 10 deadline for their briefs. The Fourth Circuit originally issued a briefing schedule requiring the government to file its opening brief April 26, with the briefing completed by June 9.


During oral arguments surrounding the first order, the Ninth Circuit attracted a large audience by live streaming the hearing. A representative in the Fourth Circuit’s Clerk’s Office said the court does not plan to livestream the May 8 arguments at this time, but the court does provide audio recordings of arguments.

The plaintiffs in the Maryland case are two refugee groups, the International Refugee Assistance Project and HIAS, as well as individuals affected by the order. They are represented by a team of lawyers from the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union.

A federal judge in Hawaii, Derrick K. Watson, also issued an injunction against the order, which blocked the travel restrictions as well as other provisions, including the 120-day suspension of the refugee program. The government has yet to appeal that order.