An interfaith coalition that includes the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate President Trump’s travel ban barring certain people from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the country, saying it discriminates on the basis of religion.
An amicus brief filed Sept. 5 by groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the National Council of Churches, the Sikh Coalition and Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders says “there is no principled basis” for selectively targeting Muslim-majority countries for inclusion on the no-travel list while omitting Christian-majority nations including Venezuela and the Philippines the State Department has determined to pose a greater security threat than Sudan, which is included in the ban.
The faith groups do not argue that Venezuela and the Philippines should be on the list or second guess the administration’s assessment of the security risks posed by various countries, but they contend the inconsistent vetting “demonstrates that a country’s predominant religion is the real basis for its inclusion in the travel ban.”
They say the discrepancy is enough to constitute a violation of the Establishment Clause, which forbids the government from burdening one religion and not another.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Oct. 10 on Trump’s travel order, which imposed a 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries and a 120-day ban on refugees.
Trump’s March 6 executive order restricting travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen is a second attempt to ban refugees and immigrants from selected Muslim-majority nations accused of supporting terrorism. The original order in January, affecting seven countries, was withdrawn after numerous legal challenges.