Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A second federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a ban on the implementation of President Donald Trump's travel ban, saying it's likely unlawful because it targets Muslim.
The executive order was the third attempt by the president to enact a ban on travelers from several countries, six of which are majority Muslim -- Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The latest version of the order also forbid entry for people from North Korea and Venezuela.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 9-4 on Thursday that the ban was "unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam."
"Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the President of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. The Proclamation is thus not only a likely Establishment Clause violation, but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on religious animosity," wrote Chief Judge Roger Gregory in the majority opinion.
The ruling will have no practical affect on the executive order, though, because the Supreme Court placed a hold on lower court rulings pending its review.
It was the second time this particular appeals court upheld a lower court ruling against one of Trump's travel bans. In May, the court blocked the second, "watered down" version of the first order, crafted to withstand the legal challenges that prompted the first order to be struck down.
The court also is the second appeals court to uphold a ban on the latest version of the order. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 22 that the order "once against exceeds the scope of [the president's] delegated authority.
Trump's travel ban has another hurdle ahead of it. Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to consider a challenge to the order, potentially settling the yearlong debate.
The Supreme Court also took up the second version of the ban, but the high court dropped the case after Trump signed the latest order.
In December, the Supreme Court allowed the latest travel ban, signed in September, to go into full effect -- placing the rulings from lower courts on hold, pending its decision on whether to take up the case.