Second US appeals court keeps Donald Trump's travel ban blocked

Another federal appeals court, the Virginia-based 4th Circuit, last month also refused to reinstate the travel ban, a decision Trump has already appealed to the Supreme Court.

A US appeals court on Monday left in place a block on President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting citizens from six Muslim majority nations - the latest in a string of judicial blows for the controversial measure.

The three-judge panel said Trump's March 6 order violated existing immigration law, but did not address whether it was unconstitutional discrimination against Muslims.

Trump's administration on June 1 filed emergency applications with the nine Supreme Court justices seeking to undo two different lower court rulings that blocked his March 6 order barring entry for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the USA government implements stricter visa screening.

Trump has said the travel ban is needed to give the federal government time to develop enhanced vetting procedures for people coming from terror-prone countries to ensure terrorists don't sneak into the United States through the legal immigration system. The court said the president was required to consult with Congress in setting the number of refugees that would be allowed into the country in a given year and could not decrease that number mid-year.

The 9th Circuit upheld the block on Trump's three-month travel ban for the six countries and four-month suspension of all refugee admissions.

The court upheld a block on the ban ordered in March by a federal judge in Hawaii. After that order was held up in court, Trump issued a revised ban that focused on six countries.

The Trump travel ban has been stalled. The high court is likely to consider the cases in tandem.

The decision by a unanimous three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals helps keep the travel ban blocked and deals Trump a second big legal defeat on the policy in less than three weeks.

Hawaii's court papers mentioned a series of Twitter posts that Trump wrote on June 5, after the administration sought Supreme Court intervention. "Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the (president) exceeded his authority".

Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions did likewise, saying he was "amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power". The ruling comes on the heels of a similar ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in May.

"The President unquestionably violates that command when he issues an Order that disproportionality burdens Muslim-Americans, while denigrating the Muslim faith and making it abundantly clear that the Order's harmful effect on Muslims is far from incidental", Katyal argued.

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