Department of Justice will drop appeal of ruling on Trump's original travel ban


SAN FRANCISCO, March 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday said it would voluntarily dismiss its own appeal of a Seattle federal court ruling that had suspended President Donald Trump's first executive order concerning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The Trump administration this week issued a new executive order that supplanted the one which had been challenged in court by the state of Washington.

The new order, which takes effect on March 16, is much more narrowly tailored than the first one issued in January. It keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen but excludes Iraq, and applies only to new visa applicants.

Immigration advocates said the new ban still discriminated against Muslims and failed to address some of their concerns with the previous directive. Legal experts said it would, however, be harder to challenge because it affects fewer people living in the United States and allows more exemptions to protect them.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Monday said his office was evaluating whether it would challenge the new order and would likely decide this week.

In the meantime, the Justice Department on Tuesday asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss its appeal over the old order. Washington state did not oppose the administration's request to end its appeal, the filing said.

The 9th Circuit last month had blocked Trump's first order, saying Washington state would likely be able to prove that it violated constitutional protections.

That appeals court ruling has not been withdrawn and its legal reasoning can still be cited as precedent in future cases, Washington attorney general spokesman Peter Lavallee said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)