ACRU: Court Wrongly Applied Establishment Clause in Immigration Ban Case

ALEXANDRIA, VA (April 3, 2017) — A U.S. District judge misapplied the First Amendment when issuing a temporary injunction against President Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from six terror-prone nations, an American Civil Rights Union brief filed on March 31 argues.

On March 16, following an earlier ruling by a U.S. judge in Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland blocked enforcement of a revised travel ban by President Donald J. Trump. Chuang cited Mr. Trump’s campaign comments about Muslim immigration as evidence of religious bias.

The ACRU brief, filed in International Refugee Assistance Project v Donald J. Trump at the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Fourth Circuit, notes that “the Establishment clause does not apply to facially neutral immigration statutes and administrative actions.”

Furthermore, the brief notes that the judge wrongly relied for intent on statements made while Mr. Trump was a private citizen during his campaign and even earlier from television programs.

Religion is nowhere mentioned in the president’s executive order, and in any case, the “Lemon test” pertaining to religious endorsement is not applicable, the brief states.

The president’s order “is consistent with the historical meaning of the Establishment Clause,” the brief says, and, “Like other constitutional rights, it [the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantee] cannot be claimed by foreigners on foreign soil.”

Written by ACRU Fellow Kenneth A. Klukowski, the brief asks the appeals court to reverse the temporary injunction issued by the district judge.