The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld another court's block against President Donald Trump's executive order on travel. The ruling indicates that the Trump administration may have to appeal the legality of the executive order to the Supreme Court.
On May 25, the 4th Circuit upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Trump directive, preventing the order from going into effect. The court ruled by a vote of 10 to 3, CNN reports reports.
The lengthy legal battle over Trump's directive began during the first week of his presidency, when his executive order sparked nationwide controversy and protests.
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order that prohibited U.S. admittance of Syrian refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Critics of the order asserted that it amounted to a religious ban, according to ABC News.
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On March 6, the president signed a revised executive order after the original directive had been halted in several courts. The updated executive action lifted the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, exempted green card holders from the travel restrictions, and removed Iraq from the list of prohibited countries.
On March 16, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland placed a nationwide hold on the revised executive order, asserting that it was religiously discriminatory.
The 4th Circuit ruled to uphold Chuang's block on the directive. The court ruling cited Trump's comments during his 2016 presidential campaign as evidence that his executive order was intended to be a Muslim ban.
"The evidence in the record, viewed from the standpoint of the reasonable observer, creates a compelling case that (the executive order's) primary purpose is religious," the court stated. "Then-candidate Trump's campaign statements reveal that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States."
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In December 2015, Trump called for a ban against all Muslim travel into the U.S. following a terrorist attack in Paris, France, according to Time.
On the campaign trail, Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently weighing another nationwide block against the Trump directive. Professor Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law noted that if that court rules to uphold the injunction, then the Trump administration would have to take its case to the Supreme Court.
"It looks increasingly likely that the justices will have to confront the travel ban -- and whether to review today's ruling -- sometime this fall," Vladeck said.