A United States federal court was set on Monday to hear an appeal to overturn a ruling that has prevented President Donald Trump's administration from implementing a controversial ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.
The federal court in Richmond, Virginia, will scrutinise an earlier ruling by a Maryland federal judge which froze Trump’s second attempt to close US borders to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
The Maryland federal judge had issued a nationwide block on the ban's core provision concerning travel from the Muslim world, saying the order raised the prospect of religious bias.
That decision came just after a broader ruling issued in Hawaii that halted the travel ban as well as a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions program. The White House is fighting that ruling in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set to hear that case in Seattle on May 15.
Justice Department lawyers arguing on behalf of the administration will argue that the decree is necessary to ensure national security and that it does not amount to the so-called Muslim ban Trump had threatened to impose while running for office.
Trump dropped the original travel ban after it was challenged in the courts and replaced it with the current ban, which is more limited.
The first decree, which prompted mass protests and sowed chaos at US airports, was blocked by a court in Washington state on the grounds that it violated the constitution's prohibition of religious discrimination, a ruling that was upheld on appeal.
The modified version removed Iraq from the ban, but has run into the same objections.
Although it does not explicitly mention Muslims, US District Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland accepted arguments that Trump's history of anti-Muslim rhetoric presented "a convincing case" that his second executive decree amounted to "the realisation of the long-envisioned Muslim ban."
Trump has vowed to fight the "flawed" ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.