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Trump asks Supreme Court to reinstate Muslim travel ban

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 02/06/2017
The legal battle has been taken to the US Supreme Court [File: David Ryder/Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera The legal battle has been taken to the US Supreme Court [File: David Ryder/Reuters]

The US administration has asked the Supreme Court to revive its controversial ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries, despite repeated setbacks in the lower courts that found it was discriminatory.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on March 6, barring people from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the government put in place stricter visa screening.

Last week, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, maintained a block on the ban, stating that Trump's travel policy was rooted in "intolerance".

A similar ruling against Trump's policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place and will be reviewed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump's executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism," Sarah Isgur Flores, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said.  

"The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States."

OPINION: Trump's Muslim ban is a dangerous distraction

At least five votes are needed on the nine-justice court in order to grant a stay. The court has a five-four conservative majority, with Justice Anthony Kennedy - a conservative who sometimes sides with the court's four liberals - the frequent swing vote.

Another of the court's conservatives, Neil Gorsuch, was appointed by Trump this year.

If the government's request is granted, the ban would go into effect.

OPINION: The Muslim ban and the ethnic cleansing of America

Trump issued a first travel ban order on January 27, just a week after taking office. It led to chaos and protests at airports before it was blocked by courts.

The second order was intended to overcome the legal issues posed by the original ban, but it was blocked by judges before it could go into effect on March 16.

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