A US appeals court questioned whether Donald Trump's travel and immigration ban is intentionally discriminatory against Muslims, as the the president's most controversial order faced its biggest legal test on Tuesday night.
Three judges at the appeals court in San Francisco have been charged with deliberating on whether a restraining order issued by a lower court should remain in effect while a challenge to the ban proceeds.
Opponents of the ban argued that Mr Trump's decision had "unleashed chaos" at airports in America and around the world, as thousands - including green card holders - found themselves banned from boarding their planes or detained on arrival.
They also argued that it was intentionally discriminatory against Muslims. But Judge Richard Clifton, a George W. Bush nominee, asked an attorney representing Washington state and Minnesota what evidence he had that the ban was motivated by religion. The two states are suing to invalidate the ban.
"I have trouble understanding why we're supposed to infer religious animus when in fact the vast majority of Muslims would not be affected."
Only 15 percent of the world's Muslims are affected, the judge said, citing his own calculations. He added that the "concern for terrorism from those connected to radical Islamic sects is hard to deny."
The justice department also countered to the panel of judges that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or remain in the United States.
August Fientje, a lawyer for the government, said it was "extraordinary" that the court would "enjoin the president's national security determination".
The judges adjourned the hearing, deferring their decision on the high-stakes legal battle, giving several more days of reprieve to foreigners from the seven Muslim-majority countries, and certain refugees, whom Mr Trump's executive order blocked from entering the country. A decision is expected this week.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, had insisted earlier in the day that Mr Trump was confident his travel ban would be reinstated in the afternoon.
Mr Spicer says that the president understands and believes in the separation of powers, and judicial integrity.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.