WASHINGTON—The Justice Department formally appealed a Maryland judge’s decision this week that blocked the implementation of President Donald Trump’s revised executive order barring U.S. entry for people from six Muslim-majority countries.

The appeal on Friday kicks off a new phase in litigation over whether Mr. Trump’s latest travel restrictions improperly target people based on their religion. The president says the restrictions are necessary to protect the country from terrorism.

Judges in Hawaii and Maryland, in rulings issued only hours apart this week, said Mr. Trump appeared to have been motivated by improper religious animus.

Among other things, the judges cited past statements in which Mr. Trump as a presidential candidate voiced support for a “Muslim ban.”

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