The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban, which Trump's administration had hoped would avoid the legal problems that the first version encountered.
The federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers portions of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and SC, voted 11-3 Wednesday to uphold a lower court's ruling granting an injunction against the Trump administration's executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations.
Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote that the order "in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination" and thus likely violates the 1st Amendment's ban on an "establishment of religion".
Sessions also said his department would ask the Supreme Court to review the ruling.
White House spokesman Michael Short explained, "These clearly are very risky times, and we need every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence".
The majority cites page after page worth of past statements by President and candidate Trump talking about blocking Muslims from entering the country.
"The President's supposed goal of "banning Muslims" from the United States is not remotely served by the temporary travel pause, a fact that makes the district court's factual finding even more dubious", Shedd wrote.
But the ruling from the 4th Circuit was the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the administration.
Previous presidents have blocked certain foreign nationals: Jimmy Carter used his authority to deny some Iranians entry to the US during the hostage crisis, Ronald Reagan to bar Cubans who didn't already have relatives here; and President Barack Obama to keep out North Korean officials. "Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It can not go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation", Gregory wrote.
Sessions noted that he "strongly disagrees" with the appeals court ruling and declared the travel ban to be "a constitutional exercise of the President's duty to protect our communities from terrorism", the Hill reported.
The high-profile, hotly contested case concerns the Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States executive order of March 9, a revision of an order issued in January that also ran into trouble in courts. Unlike the first order, which was suspended by a court in February, Iraqi nationals were not included in the second ban.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled 10-3 against the travel ban.
Trump has lashed out at the judges and courts that have ruled against him, saying the Ninth Circuit has a "terrible" record and calling its rulings on his policies "ridiculous".
They decided the arguments against the executive order were strong indeed.
The first travel ban in January triggered chaos and protests across the country as travelers were stopped from boarding worldwide flights and detained at airports for hours. One of the plaintiffs, identified only as Jane Doe No. 2, is described in the opinion as a college student who has a pending visa application on behalf of her sister, a Syrian refugee living in Saudi Arabia.
The three dissenting judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, said the majority was wrong to look beyond the text of the order.
During oral arguments this month, numerous 4th Circuit judges expressed doubts about the viability of the president's order.
"This to us is a complete win and overwhelming in terms of the votes", said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project, who argued the case in the Fourth Circuit.
"President Trump's executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the Nation safe". The order itself "contains no reference to religion whatsoever", Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote.