Trump v. Hawaii

AT ISSUE

The state of Hawaii and others challenged the “travel ban” — a series of presidential actions that barred immigration from some majority-Muslim countries. The Proclamation at issue in Trump v. Hawaii is the third version of the White House’s attempt to limit immigration from certain countries.

BJC’S POSITION
BJC stands against attempts to target anyone for unfair treatment based on religion, including the so-called “travel ban.” These executive actions violate and endanger religious freedom by singling out one faith for disfavored treatment. BJC remains concerned that such actions use religious identity as a proxy for “security threat” and a reason for exclusion.

For the case heard at the U.S. Supreme Court, BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman joined a brief with more than 30 other constitutional scholars arguing that the Proclamation is unconstitutionally based in religious animus toward Muslims.

“This case implicates an essential aspect of religious freedom in our country: The government cannot enact laws designed to harm a religious group,” said BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman.

STATUS
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the third iteration of the “travel ban” on June 26, 2018. The 5-4 decision said it is within the power specifically delegated to the president by Congress.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s refusal to repudiate policy rooted in animus against Muslims,” said BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the final ruling. “In giving such broad deference to President Trump, the Court neglects its duty to uphold our First Amendment principles of religious liberty. Safeguarding religious liberty requires the government to remain neutral with regard to religion, neither favoring one religion over another nor preferring religion or irreligion.”

The ban applies to various populations from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Venezuela. It has been in effect since December 4, 2017, when the Supreme Court lifted the lower court’s order that had been blocking the policy.

The president never repudiated his hostile statements or tweets directed at Muslims or the subject of Muslim immigration.

From the Brief
“The Establishment Clause forbids officials from exercising governmental power on the basis of a desire to suppress, harm, or denigrate any particular religious sect or denomination. This limit, though narrow, is vital to religious liberty.”

“President Trump’s Proclamation and the oft-repeated campaign promise it fulfilled were based on a desire to exclude Muslims from this nation. While the Proclamation does not exclude all Muslims, and does not single out Muslims by name, the clear and widely-noted goal of the Proclamation is to ban a large number of Muslims from the United States in satisfaction of President Trump’s promise to do just that.”

“Even acknowledging that he is entitled to deference on matters of immigration and national security, it is hard to imagine a clearer instance of official action motivated by animus toward a religion.”

“The First Amendment protects speech, but it does not allow candidates or politicians to evade accountability if their words reveal that an unconstitutional purpose motivated their official actions.”

“[H]ere, the President has repeatedly rejected, criticized, and departed from the various policy rationales presented to the courts by his unelected subordinates. It would disrespect the Office of the Presidency — and destroy lines of political and electoral accountability — for this Court to treat the President as insignificant in the issuance of his own Proclamation. His statements about its purpose must be considered authoritative.”

“This Court has thus held time and again that the Establishment Clause forbids official acts based on animus toward any particular religious group. That principle transcends many of the familiar divisions in Establishment Clause jurisprudence, and has been embraced by strict separationists, proponents of the endorsement test, those who believe that the Clause targets coercion, and jurists who see a very broad role for religion in public life.”

Featured
Resources

Video of Amanda Tyler on the steps of the Supreme Court after the ruling
(June 26, 2018)

Brief from more than 30 constitutional scholars — including BJC’s Holly Hollman (PDF)
Arguing the third iteration of the ban is unconstitutionally based in religious animus toward Muslims

Religious liberty and the travel ban
by Holly Hollman (June 7, 2018)

Hear Amanda Tyler preach a sermon called “Loving and Knowing Our Neighbors”
This 2017 sermon includes a discussion of the travel ban (starting at 9:51)