One week from today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Muslim ban case. We hope the justices vote on the right side of history and rule that there should be no Muslim ban, ever.
The ban has had an inhumane effect on American Muslims. That’s why Americans United and allies filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court on behalf of people impacted by the ban, urging the high court to strike it down.
Our brief highlights real people suffering real harm. Among them are an elderly Maryland couple who desperately want to see their son, who’s blocked from entering the United States from Iran. The brief includes two American women separated from the men they love, a married couple separated from family and a public-school teacher who has been unable to see her brother.
These individuals and two organizations – Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) and the Iranian Students’ Foundation at the University of Maryland – also are plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump, a lawsuit filed by AU and allies that was the first to challenge Muslim Ban 3.0.
The human impact illustrates why this case is so important. History can also be an important guide here. An article in The New York Times this week noted that the Supreme Court has a chance to avoid repeating a bad mistake. It pointed out that while he was on the campaign trail, President Donald J. Trump referenced Japanese internment during World War II as his precedent for banning Muslims.
As The Times explained, that period of U.S. history is hardly one of our proudest moments.
“The justices will consider how much weight to give to Mr. Trump’s campaign statements. And they will act in the shadow of their own decision in Korematsu v. United States, which endorsed [President Franklin] Roosevelt’s 1942 order and is almost universally viewed as a shameful mistake,” observed the story.
Indeed it was. And that’s why children of Japanese-Americans held in the detention camps warned the Supreme Court that the Muslim ban case has historical parallels.
“History teaches caution and skepticism when vague notions of national security are used to justify vast, unprecedented exclusionary measures that target disfavored classes,” the Japanese American Citizens League wrote to the high court.
When I attended the No Muslim Ban Ever March in October, I heard similar stories. Among the most powerful speakers at the march was Holly Yasui, the daughter of Min Yasui, a lawyer who challenged the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during the war. She reminded us that we should learn from history, not repeat it.
“He [her father] believed it was unconstitutional and absolutely wrong for the U.S. government to single out and punish a group of people solely on the basis of race or national origin,” Yasui said. “2017 is not 1942, but sadly – shamefully – we hear echoes of the Japanese-American internment today…. Back then, it was Japanese-Americans. Today, it is Muslims.”
As I spoke with American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, I noticed a similar fear. Many people understand the ban has extended beyond public policy; it has also sparked an uptick in Islamophobic rhetoric, harassment and hate crimes. That’s why we’re continuing to share American Muslims’ stories and amplify their voices this month leading up to the argument next week.
Yasui’s words are powerful and right. The Muslim ban is unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims based solely on their religion. Our country should learn from shameful moments in history rather than attempt to target a different group.
America is at its best when people of all religions feel welcome here. For people of all faiths and for people who don’t claim any faith at all – religious freedom means that the law treats everyone equally regardless of faith. Americans United will continue to protect this ideal no matter what discriminatory policies the Trump administration tries to implement.
AU will be joining allies outside the Supreme Court the day of the argument, April 25, to say that there should be #NoMuslimBanEver. We encourage you to join us.