World

US court to hold hearing on Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump's amended travel ban faced a key test yesterday, when a US appeals court took on a case that has stymied the administration's controversial efforts to bar travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.

A Richmond, Virginia-based federal court was set to hold a crucial hearing to scrutinise a Maryland judge's ruling that dealt Mr Trump a humiliating blow by freezing his second attempt to close US borders to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

Given the public importance of the case and the need for a timely decision, the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals will head straight for a full-court, or "en banc" hearing - bypassing the usual initial three-judge panel - for the first time in 25 years.

The court has 15 active judges, some of whom could recuse themselves because of potential conflicts of interest. The exact list was released yesterday ahead of the hearing, set to begin at 2.30pm (Singapore time 2.30am, today).

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 one issued in Hawaii that halted the travel ban, as well as a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions programme.

The White House is fighting that ruling in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals. - AFP

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