muslim travel ban, donald trump muslim ban, travel ban rejected
A sign saying "My family is detained at JFK" hangs in the window of a closed bodega during a Yemeni protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S. February 2, 2017.Reuters

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday handed Donald Trump one of the biggest victories of his presidency, upholding his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries.

The 5-4 ruling, with the court's five conservatives in the majority, ends, for now, a fierce fight in the courts over whether the policy represented an unlawful Muslim ban. Trump can now claim vindication after lower courts had blocked his travel ban announced in September, as well as two prior versions, in legal challenges brought by the state of Hawaii and others.

"The Proclamation is squarely within the scope of Presidential authority," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

"The [order] is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices," Roberts wrote. "The text says nothing about religion."

The court held that the challengers had failed to show that the ban violates either US immigration law or the US Constitution's First Amendment prohibition on the government favouring one religion over another.

The ruling affirmed broad presidential discretion over who is allowed to enter the United States. It means that the current ban can remain in effect and that Trump could potentially add more countries. Trump has said the policy is needed to protect the country against attacks by Islamic militants.

Meanwhile, Trump celebrated the news with a tweet that said "wow". "SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!"

United States President, Donald John Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Francis Kelly
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures next to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly during a briefing with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2017.Reuters