June 13, 2017 / 11:29 AM / 3 months ago

Trump eyes Supreme Court after appeals court rejects travel ban

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (R) flank U.S. President Donald Trump as he meets with his Cabinet at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized a federal appeals court one day after it handed him another legal setback by refusing to revive his U.S. travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations, and appeared poised for the nation’s top court to weigh in.

On Monday, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals became the second federal appeals court to reject the Republican Trump administration’s bid to undo a Hawaii federal judge’s decision that blocked the temporary travel ban in a dispute headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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 90-day ban targets travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again - Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.” Trump said in a post on Twitter, apparently referencing the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation’s top court, which leans conservative after Trump’s appointee won confirmation as the ninth justice earlier this year, could act as soon as this week on his administration’s request to reinstate the order.

The 9th Circuit, headed by Democratic appointees, largely left in place a nationwide injunction by Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii that stopped parts of the order, which Trump contends is needed to prevent terrorism in the United States.

Those who have challenged the travel ban dispute that it is needed to protect Americans and argue that the order violates the U.S. Constitution’s bar against favoring or disfavoring a particular religion.

Another appeals court, the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, last month upheld a Maryland judge’s ruling that also blocked Trump’s ban.

Trump has been on the losing side in all four court rulings on the March order and has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency review.

In a statement on Monday, U.S. Attorney General Sessions said Trump’s executive order was lawful and that the court rulings have had a “chilling effect” on security operations.

This story has been refiled to add Jeff Sessions' first name in final paragraph.

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