The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.
The justices, with two dissenting votes, said on Monday that the policy can take full effect even as legal challenges against it make their way through the courts.
The action suggests the high court could uphold the latest version of the ban that Trump announced in September.
The ban applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Lower courts had said people from those nations with a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be kept out of the country.
Grandparents, cousins and other relatives were among those courts said could not be excluded.
Earlier this year, Trump’s proposed ban Muslim travel ban prompted more than 1.8 million people to sign a petition calling for his state visit to the UK to be cancelled.
His recent re-tweets of the far-right Britain First group have fuelled renewed calls for him to be barred.
On Monday night, senior British politicians condemned the ban, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying: “Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is shameful and discriminatory. It stokes hatred and violates essential human rights.”
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said: “Muslim ban is the worst example of Trump’s intolerance.
“This is not the signal the supposed leader of the free world should be sending out.
“Shows again why we should not be rolling out the red carpet with a state visit.”
But ex-Ukip leader and sometime Trump cheerleader Nigel Farage hailed the travel ban soon after after major tax cuts for the better-off were approved in the US. “Spare a thought for the liberal left at what must be a very difficult time for them,” said.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, will be holding arguments on the legality of the ban this week.
Both courts are dealing with the issue on an accelerated basis, and the Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch.”
Quick resolution by appellate courts would allow the Supreme Court to hear and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.