Donald Trump's controversial travel ban has been rejected again
In a stinging rebuke to the president, the court refused to reinstate the temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations.
The ruling is another serious blow to Mr Trump’s White House administration and the legal battle of the ban is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.
The decision, written by Chief Judge Roger Gregory, condemned Mr Trump's executive order in forceful terms, saying it uses "vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."
In a 10-3 ruling, a majority of judges on the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the challengers to the ban, including refugee groups and individuals, were likely to succeed on their claim the order violates the US Constitution's bar on favuoring one religion over another.
Citing statements made by Mr Trump during his presidential election campaign calling for a "Muslim ban," Judge Gregory wrote that a reasonable observer would likely conclude that the order's "primary purpose is to exclude persons from the US on the basis of their religious beliefs”.
The appeals court was reviewing a March ruling by Maryland-based federal judge Theodore Chuang that blocked part of the March 6 executive order barring people from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the government put in place stricter visa screening.
Donald Trump is on an official visit to Belgian capital Brussels
A similar ruling against Mr Trump's policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place and the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals court is reviewing that decision.
The Trump administration has argued that the temporary travel ban is a national security measure aimed at preventing Islamist militant attacks.
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The March ban was Mr Trump's second effort to implement travel restrictions through an executive order.
The first, issued on January 27 just a week after the Republican president took office, led to chaos and protests at airports before it was blocked by courts.
The second order was intended to overcome the legal issues posed by the original ban, but it was blocked by judges before it could go into effect on March 16.