A Baptist church/state specialist is among a group of constitutional scholars asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down President Donald Trump’s third attempt to restrict travel from certain Muslim majority nations the administration claims pose a terrorist risk.
Holly Hollman, general counsel and associate executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, joined 32 other scholars in a recent legal brief arguing that the president’s order banning travel from eight countries stems from unconstitutional religious animus against Islam.
The filing is one of a number of friend-of-the-court briefs – legal arguments from non-parties volunteering legal precedent for justices to consider in their ruling – in a case scheduled for oral arguments on Wednesday.
“The government cannot enact laws designed to harm a religious group,” Hollman said. “A threat to the religious liberty of one group is a threat to religious liberty of others.”
The professors say the Constitution forbids officials “from exercising governmental power on the basis of a desire to suppress, harm, or denigrate any particular religious sect or denomination.”
While the policy does not mention Muslims, the scholars say the objective is to “ban a large number of Muslims from the United States” in keeping with promises made by Trump during his presidential campaign.
Another brief filed by faith groups including the Alliance of Baptists and American Baptist Churches USA contends that Congress, and not the president, has the constitutional authority to exclude foreigners because of their nationality.
“By singlehandedly reinstituting the exclusion of foreigners based on their nationalities, the President’s proclamation flouts both the separation of powers and Congress’s express will,” the brief says.
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, meanwhile, defends the travel ban in its amicus brief.
“God ordained governments to protect people from evildoers,” the groups argues. “Although the Bible forbids oppression of foreigners, it does not require a country to have open borders.”