WASHINGTON, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The Donald Trump administration on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the president's executive order to temporarily ban citizens from six Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa.
"We have asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and are confident that President Trump's executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism," U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
"The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States," said the statement.
The petition came after the latest setback for Trump's controversial executive order to bar the citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order had originally also included Iraq.
On May 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia upheld a lower court ruling blocking Trump's travel ban nationwide.
At the time, the Fourth Circuit's Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the White House's "asserted national security interest ... appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country."
"Then-candidate Trump's campaign statements reveal that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States," the ruling said.
The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is also evaluating the travel ban in a separate appeal and has not indicated when it will rule.
However, the Trump administration has repeatedly denied it is a Muslim ban, arguing the order aims to prevent terrorism by suspending visitors from terror-prone countries where visa vetting may not be effective.
The revised presidential executive order, released in March, bars people from the six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days while freezing all refugee resettlement for 120 days.