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US court rules against Trump's travel ban

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San Francisco appeals court upholds suspension by Seattle judge

SAN FRANCISCO: A US court on Thursday unanimously refused to reinstate Mr Donald Trump's ban on refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, dealing him and his controversial law-and-order agenda a major defeat.

The San Francisco federal appeals court's ruling on Mr Trump's executive order - issued on 
Jan 27 with no prior warning and suspended by a lower court a week later - capped a turbulent first three weeks of his presidency.

A defiant Mr Trump quickly pledged to battle on, tweeting within minutes of the decision: "See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake!"

"It's a political decision," he told reporters later.

The Justice Department had asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to restore the measure on an emergency basis, but the three-judge panel instead maintained the suspension ordered by a Seattle federal judge.

"We hold that the government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury," the judges ruled.

Mr Trump's decree summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

Now, the case could end up in the Supreme Court.

The San Francisco court said aspects of the public interest favoured both sides.

"On the one hand, the public has a powerful interest in national security and in the ability of an elected president to enact policies," the ruling said.

"And on the other, the public also has an interest in free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination."Washington Governor Jay Inslee, whose administration sued for the measure to be blocked, hailed a victory, saying that the ruling showed "no one is above the law, not even the president".

The Trump administration has 14 days to file a petition for reconsideration of Thursday's ruling.

Another option would be to ask the Supreme Court to review the case, although that might lead to an embarrassing defeat, given the unanimity of the San Francisco panel, which includes a Republican-appointed judge. - WIRE SERVICES