SPLC tells Supreme Court: President Trump's Muslim ban is an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom

The SPLC joined other civil rights organizations and members of the clergy today in telling the U.S. Supreme Court that President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom.

“Long before Donald Trump became president, he made his hostility toward immigrants, refugees and Muslims abundantly clear,” said SPLC Deputy Legal Director Naomi Tsu. “As president, his Muslim ban blatantly discriminates against travelers to the United States on the basis of religion—a violation of the First Amendment. It also encourages a climate of harassment that allows people to be singled out for their religion, language, skin color or dress. A policy that so brazenly violates our nation’s fundamental principles cannot stand.”

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, the SPLC, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), allied religious and civil-rights organizations and members of the clergy explained that Trump’s executive order banning immigration from six Muslim-majority countries is unconstitutional because it singles out one group of people—Muslims—for disfavor based solely on their religion.

“(B)y design and in actual effect the challenged Executive Order denigrates, maltreats, and fuels discrimination against Muslims, just for being Muslim,” the brief states. “This official denominational preference and the harms that it causes cannot be squared with the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom.”

Joining the brief were the religious and civil-rights organizations Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and People For the American Way Foundation. Also joining were The Riverside Church in the City of New York and seven faith leaders from Colorado, Florida, Minnesota and New York.

The SPLC, joined by Americans United, Bend the Arc, the Riverside Church and members of clergy, had previously filed friend-of-the-court briefs with lower federal courts in both cases now being argued before the Supreme Court—Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project and Trump v. State of Hawaii.

The SPLC, Americans United and Muslim Advocates also represent the plaintiffs in Universal Muslim Association of America v. Trump, a federal lawsuit that focuses on how the ban harms the American Muslim community.