American Civil Liberties Attorney, Omar Jadwat, gestures as he speaks after a hearing before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., Monday, May 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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Federal appeals court judges on Monday peppered a U.S. Justice Department lawyer with tough questions about President Donald Trump's temporary ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, with several voicing skepticism that protecting national security was the aim of the policy, not religious bias.Based on the judges' questions, a ruling could hinge on whether the appeals court agrees with a lower court judge that past statements by Trump about the need to prevent Muslims from entering the United States should be taken into account.Judge Robert King, named by Democratic former President Bill Clinton, told Wall that Trump has never retracted previous comments about wanting to impose a ban on Muslims.Wall told the judges past legal precedent holds that the court should not look behind the text of the Trump's executive order, which does not mention any specific religion, to get at its motivations.The administration appealed a March 15 ruling by Maryland-based federal judge Theodore Chuang that put the ban on hold just a day before it was due to go into effect.That left nine judges appointed by Democratic presidents, three Republican appointees and one judge originally appointed by a Democrat and later re-appointed by a Republican.The three judges assigned all are Democratic appointees.
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