November 22, 2017
Ensuring the safety and security of our communities
Today the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the federal government’s appeal of a court injunction against President Trump’s third travel order. Trump’s order bars nationals of several majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States because vetting visitors and immigrants from those countries for ties to terrorism is next to impossible.
The district court had enjoined Trump’s order on the ground that it violates federal statutes. On appeal, U.S. Muslim plaintiffs argue that it also amounts to religious discrimination against them in violation of the Constitution.
In its brief, IRLI takes on both claims. First, IRLI shows that the federal courts lack jurisdiction to hear plaintiffs’ statutory claims at all, because Congress never granted them such jurisdiction. Then IRLI takes aim at plaintiffs’ assumption that, because President Trump called for a pause in Muslim entry during the campaign, his order has a forbidden “religious” purpose. IRLI contends that such reasoning would leave the United States open to threats from hostile forces whenever those forces happened to have a religious character – a result the American people never intended when they ratified the Constitution.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that President Trump harbors any religious animus against Muslims,” explained Christopher Hajec, IRLI’s director of litigation. “Even when he called for a pause in their entry, until we could improve our ability to screen out terrorists, he obviously was just concerned with national security and protecting American lives, not with disparaging a religion. This is shown by the fact that he clearly doesn’t feel animus toward non-Christian religions in general,” Hajec added. “He never called for a ban on entry by Hindus, or Buddhists.”
“It is healthy – indeed, vital – for our democracy to have plainspoken political candidates,” said Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s executive director. “Plaintiffs would shut that down, and make candidates tiptoe around certain subjects for fear a left-wing court would enjoin their actions if they were elected. If that happened, the people would lack crucial information to base their vote on.
“We have to protect the free flow of information and opinion in our democracy,” Wilcox added, “so we know the dangers facing us, and our choices. Ultimately, that’s what protects us. This lawsuit tramples on that bedrock safeguard.”
The case is Hawaii et al. v. Trump et al., No. 17-17168 (Ninth Circuit).
For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]
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