Yesterday I rallied with my colleagues outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments in a case challenging President Donald J. Trump’s Muslim ban. We were proud to stand side by side with allies to send a clear message that there should be no Muslim ban, ever.
The rally kicked off at 8:30 a.m., before the arguments even began. While the court heard arguments inside, we were outside chanting slogans, including AU’s own “All religions are welcome here!” We also heard from a lot of great speakers, ranging from activists, refugees and Muslims sharing their personal experiences, members of Congress and more.
This month, we’ve been sharing personal stories about how the ban has impacted Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. Yesterday, we heard from more people.
“Because of Trump’s Muslim ban, my aunts and cousins can’t visit us here for our family’s milestones. This ban is not just unconstitutional – we also know that this is an immoral, xenophobic, anti-Muslim ban,” said Avideh Moussavian, an Iranian-American attorney for the National Immigration Law Center.
Heartbreaking stories like this continued throughout the day. Some stories were unspoken but seen. A women named Yasi Ebadi yesterday held up a sign that pointed to her 8-month-old daughter and read, “I am banned from seeing my grandma.” Yasi and her husband are Iranian immigrants, and since the rest of their family live in Iran, they are separated and unable to see them.
When AU Executive Director Rachel K. Laser spoke at the rally, she reiterated the important message that the Muslim ban is unconstitutional, discriminatory and hurts real people.
“None of us are fooled. We know the Muslim ban’s true intent is to narrow the space for religious diversity in our country. To please those who seek to protect Christian – white Christian – dominance in American religious life,” Laser said. “We know America is at its best when all religions are welcome here.”
(Laser stressed some of these same points in an op-ed for Religion News Service co-authored by David P. Gushee, distinguished university professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and president of the American Academy of Religion.)
America is indeed at its best when people of all religions, and of no religion at all, are welcome here. That’s why AU joined our allies at Muslim Advocates in filing the first lawsuit to challenge the third iteration of the ban – IAAB v. Trump – and filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of those plaintiffs before the Supreme Court in yesterday’s case.
“The Muslim ban is emblematic of the struggle over the direction of our country,” Laser said. “We choose the path that affirms every person’s human dignity, embraces diversity, welcomes the stranger and upholds American constitutional values.”
Members of Congress attending the rally echoed this sentiment.
“Hate has no place here and the Muslim ban is unconstitutional... We need to be a country that welcomes all, regardless of religion,” U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said. “This is about the dignity we deserve to be accorded as humans. This transcends partisan lines.”
U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), who’s one of only two Muslim congress members, called the ban racist and urged the crowd to stand for marginalized communities everywhere: “As we attempt to make America great again, we have a president who wants to make America hate again.”
Khizr Khan, a Muslim Gold Star father who lost his son in the Iraq war and rose to fame after speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and questioning Trump’s knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, also spoke.
“All Americans, regardless of their religion, should be treated with dignity,” Khan said.
Throughout the rally, speakers noted that Trump referenced Japanese internment during World War II as his precedent for banning Muslims. In Korematsu v. United States, the high court was on the wrong side of history by standing in favor of Japanese-American internment, and speakers urged the court to rule on the right side of history by blocking the Muslim ban.
Karen Korematsu, the daughter of the late civil rights activist Fred Korematsu, said that her father’s legacy is an important guide for why the ban should be blocked once and for all.
“This is our opportunity and our responsibility to speak up and challenge the courts when presented with a ban that is totally discriminatory and racist,” Korematsu said. “My father never gave up hope that he would someday seek justice. And we cannot give up hope.”
After the rally, AU’s Legal Director Richard B. Katskee and Laser discussed the atmosphere both inside and outside the court. Watch it here or below.
America is indeed at its best when people of all religions feel welcome here. For people of all faiths and for non-believers – 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.