Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on May 25 that the U.S. Department of Justice will ask the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of President Donald Trump's travel ban.
Sessions' announcement came on the same day the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia upheld the stop placed on the ban by a lower court in a March ruling, The Guardian reports.
Trump signed the executive order on March 6, according to the White House. It proposed to ban immigration to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- and suspend the refugee program for 120 days.
Sessions noted that he "strongly disagrees" with the appeals court ruling and declared the travel ban to be "a constitutional exercise of the President's duty to protect our communities from terrorism," The Hill reports.
The DOJ "will seek review of this case in the United States Supreme Court," he added.
In a 10-3 ruling, the appeals court stated that the travel ban "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination."
Representatives for the Trump administration argued in court that judges should not look beyond the text of the executive order, which said nothing about the religion of those affected.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union countered this.
Among the evidence the ACLU presented to the court was a comment former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani made the day after Trump unveiled his first travel ban, which was on Jan. 27, CNN reports.
"I'll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said 'Muslim ban,'" Giuliani stated on Jan. 28, according to The Guardian. "He called me up, he said, 'Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.'"
Chief Judge Roger Gregory concluded that the "asserted national security interest ... appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country," according to The Associated Press.
"Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute," he added. "It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation."
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Trump's Jan. 27 travel ban. The second ban, introduced on March 6, removed Iraq from the list of countries affected and avoided using language that suggested religious minorities would be given priority for immigration.
However, this did not prevent a Maryland court from ruling on March 16 that the order violated the Constitution, according to CNN. Another district court in Hawaii also blocked the measure on March 15.
Even if the Trump administration had won the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, it would have faced another case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals related to the Hawaii ruling, The Guardian reports.