Travelers make their way up the arrival ramp at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport on June 29, 2017. After months of wrangling, tighter restrictions on travel to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim nations took effect in June after the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead for a limited version of President Trump's plans for a ban. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Interfaith coalition says ‘no principled basis’ for Trump's travel ban

WASHINGTON (RNS) — An interfaith coalition has told the Supreme Court there is “no principled basis” for President Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority nations.

The group’s amicus brief, filed Sept. 5, was signed by groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the National Council of Churches, the Sikh Coalition and Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

"The Episcopal Diocese of Washington and I believe our nation's security is imperiled, not secured, by policies that discriminate solely on the basis of religion," Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, one of six Episcopal bishops who signed the brief, said in a statement Thursday (Sept. 14).

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"I'm proud to join this interfaith effort to urge the Supreme Court to overturn the travel ban, so that visitors to the U.S. and refugees, once fully vetted, may enter the country without discrimination on the basis of religion."

The ban temporarily prevents citizens from the following nations from entering the U.S.: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The interfaith coalition members argue that Trump’s March 6 executive order is “anathema” to the core tenet of religious tolerance that they share. They say the order “selectively targeted” six Muslim-majority nations cited in State Department reports on terrorism but excluded at least two Christian-majority nations — Venezuela and the Philippines — that meet the same criteria applied to the Muslim countries.

The six nations named in President Trump's travel ban, and the proportions of their populations that are Muslim. RNS graphic by Chris Mathews

While not contending that those two countries should be included in the ban, the coalition argues that the order violates the Constitution’s establishment clause, which calls for the government to not favor one religion over another.

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Another interfaith group challenged the ban in a separate June 12 friend-of-the-court brief, arguing that it targeted Muslims and harms the ability of faith organizations to aid refugees fleeing persecution and war.

Numerous other groups also have filed briefs in the case. They range from the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund, which argues in support of Trump and states that “aliens abroad have no constitutional rights,” to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which argues that a different aspect of the Constitution — the free exercise clause — should be considered in this case. Becket's brief is not in support of either party in the case.

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On Tuesday, the high court blocked a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that would have eased aspects of the ban and allowed the entry of tens of thousands of refugees by the end of October.

The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments related to the ban on travelers from the six countries for Oct. 10.


  1. The ban on travel from these nations is based purely on the threat assessment connected to them. There are plenty of Muslim populations who are not restricted. If there is a correlation between militant violence and a particular religion in a region perhaps the real issue is the influence of that particular flavor of ideology. This is in no way a violation of the Constitution. The ban is not on the basis of religion but on the basis of behavior that demonstrates a threat. If that behavior is correlated to a particular religion then they need to look at that internally.

    I do find the claim interesting that the Phillipines and Venezuala are being presented as having citizens who demonstrate the same level of risk. While not my area of responsibility, I think I will take a look at it for curiosity sake. If so, they should also be on the travel ban.

  2. Another rehash with all the RNS commenters soon to be running over the same old ground. Based on what was allowed in the past it was my assumption that the president and congress had broad powers to determine who can and can’t get temporary or permanent access to our country, especially when national security is invoked. In October the SCOTUS will make that determination. It looks like they just might suprise us.

  3. I wonder which will impact the Supreme Court’s thinking more — these briefs, or the continuing reports from Europe of crimes and terrorism perpetuated by Muslim refugees/immigrants.

  4. “The ban on travel from these nations is based purely on the threat assessment connected to them.”

    No they aren’t. Both the State and DHS deny there is data to support such a claim. Quite the opposite, based on past analysis. In fact no experts in the fields were consulted when this was proposed. You are imputing work done and criteria employed which were just not done here.

    “There was Never a National Security Need for the Travel Ban”
    [Arguing that if the President had bothered to keep himself reasonably informed and the proper agencies adequately staffed, then the same goals could have been met without a heavy handed EO, but it would involve actual trust in experts to do their job]

    The ban was always meant to be an illegal one based purely on religion. But that was taken back when the crapstorm was whipped up trying to implement it. It was a campaign promise to Trump’s more cretinous support base. One which has no regards for civil liberties of people here, let alone consideration of those coming here.

    The countries were chosen based on what guides most of Trumps actions, looking for easy targets. He picked countries we have little to no formal ties to. Ones unlikely to create a diplomatic kerfuffle over this that would overly harm US interests. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are far more notable sources for funding and aiding terrorism but we have a ton of economic/political/military ties to those countries and a ban would be damaging to the US. .

    It’s telling that no real suggestions have been made so far as to how exciting vetting procedures need somehow to be changed despite the temporary nature of the ban.

    Trump had no clue what to do here and the ban represents the half baked thinking and having to scale back plans which were obviously much more offensive to the law.

  5. It’s interesting that the briefs supporting the ban don’t argue it’s merits or cite to facts which can justify it.

    They rely on traditional deterrence to the executive branch. The argument is used because at no time did the president bother to inform himself of such things outside of picking which ME countries are least likely to harm US interests in response.

  6. State is a joke when it comes to national security. I think you have incorrect data from DHS because from where I sit DIA and DHS are in agreement.

  7. It is telling that when we hear of attacks like the one that occurred in London we would be surprised if it were a radicalized atheist, freethinker, Buddhist, Christian, Mormon, Wiccan, Hindi, Rastafarian, Sikh, Pastafarian and so forth.

    But to find it was a radicalized Muslim with ties to militarized areas of the globe doesn’t surprise anyone.

  8. Your opinion of such things does not create the facts and support you needed to make your statement about justified threats posed by the immigration candidates here. But the linked story I provided gave details on how an intelligent, non bigoted, competent president with skilled staff working for them, would have acted under a justified treat posed.

    Where you sit is wherever the official party line has told you.

    Fact of the matter is Trump has a problem with experienced and skilled members of executive branch positions. His leak problem is largely due to the wild distrust he engenders. He is considered toxic to anyone with a professional and ethical reputation.

    Time and again factual claims he makes gets undermined by experts within the government itself.

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