Yesterday, a judge on the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the Trump administration from enforcing its unconstitutional Muslim ban in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
While this order aligns with those of almost every other court that has heard a challenge to the Muslim ban thus far – including the nationwide restraining order issued by the U.S. District Court in Seattle and upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – the Virginia court’s analysis was notably different in one respect: its focus on religious freedom.
In a 22-page opinion, Judge Leonie Brinkema found that the Muslim ban likely violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on government singling out a religion for disfavor. Her opinion recounts the numerous public comments that Donald Trump made both as a presidential candidate and as president, as well as the comments of his advisors, that all illustrated an animus toward Islam, including his intention to impose a “complete shutdown” on the entry of Muslims into the United States. From these comments, the court had no doubt that the ban was meant to target one religion, in violation of the principle of religious freedom.
The courts dealt another blow to the Trump administration's unconstitutional Muslim ban.
In one particularly powerful part of the opinion, Judge Brinkema rejected the federal government’s argument that candidate Trump’s statements were irrelevant to the actions he had taken as president: “Just as the Supreme Court has held that ‘the world is not made brand new every morning,’ a person is not made brand new simply by taking the oath of office.” In other words, the court saw through President Trump’s attempt to rebrand his executive order as a ban on certain territories in the name of national security and saw the ban for what it has been all along: a ban on Muslims and an unlawful affront to the separation of church and state.
Americans United is proud that Judge Brinkema agreed with the legal arguments regarding religious freedom that we set forth in our brief in this case.
We will keep submitting briefs in cases challenging the Muslim ban in order to ensure that the courts get these issues right. In addition to this case, Aziz v. Trump, AU also submitted briefs in Washington v. Trump, the case that has resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing the ban from being enforced nationwide.
You can learn more about AU’s involvement in both of these cases here.