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A Sign of Hope? Federal Judge Allows Challenge Towards Muslim Ban

posted on: Jul 17, 2019

By Alena Khan/Arab America Contributing Writer

Last week, a federal judge in Michigan, Victoria Roberts, denied a government request to dismiss a lawsuit against President Trump’s Muslim ban. This action by Judge Roberts allows the ban which limits immigration from several predominately Muslim countries to be challenged, calling out on its blatant unconstitutional religious discrimination. 

Trump’s Muslim ban has been stuck in a pattern of being challenged then revised. Back in 2017, when Trump first signed the executive order banning entry into the US from specific Muslim countries, immediately, many federal courts ruled this order to be unconstitutional. Trump then reworked the ban, issuing it again later that year, which again, courts deemed unconstitutional. Finally, in September 2017, Trump released a third version of the ban, hitting especially hard as just a few months later, in the Supreme Court case of Trump v. Hawaii, the court ruled that the ban could continue, while the legality could be challenged. 

This case raised many questions concerning the President’s power. For example, is there statutory authority to issue the order? Does the Proclamation violate the Establishment Clause in the US Constitution? Is the global injunction mentioned in the Proclamation overbroad? However, the ruling of this case still left some questions unanswered. It was ruled that “the Proclamation does not exceed any statutory power of the President, nor does the Proclamation violate another statute,” the majority found that the Proclamation did not “favor or disfavor” any particular religion, but never resolved the question of whether or not the global injunction is “impermissibly overbroad.” It’s no question that the Trump v. Hawaii ruling affected the fight against the Muslim Ban, although it was allowed to challenge the legality of the ban, the court decision itself results in mixed interpretations. 

Judge Roberts claims that the government misunderstood the Trump v. Hawaii decision, explaining that excluding people from the US would not be permissible if based on unconstitutional grounds, providing sufficient evidence that the “Proclamation is unable to be explained by anything but animus towards Muslims.” Additionally, Judge Roberts brings up the multiple times in which President Trump has specifically called for a “Muslim Ban,” concluding that there is a reason to believe that this is in fact prejudice towards Muslims.

The lawsuit in Michigan was brought up by many nonprofit and business groups such as the Arab American Studies Association, the Arab American Civil Rights League, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and more. Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) says “nothing can undo the extraordinary suffering this cruel policy has caused millions of families who have been separated from their loved ones,” she continues, “But today’s court decision is a victory for the Muslim community across the globe and for all people who oppose religious discrimination in all its forms” 

Since the start of this controversial Proclamation, the fight against the Muslim ban has been a long and difficult one, facing many obstacles, but is there finally a sign of hope? Following last week’s decision by Judge Roberts, a similar decision has been made in Maryland by US District Judge Theodore Chaung, who also states that there is enough evidence to show Trump’s ban may not relate to legitimate national security matters. Both court decisions are considered a big win for American Muslims and any Americans who value religious freedom. Judge Roberts and Chuang take a stand against bigotry and interpret the Muslim ban in the way we’ve been meaning for it to be interpreted this whole time, as unconstitutional and directly against Muslims. These court decisions show that our voices are being heard, and the fight against Trump’s Muslim ban is not over just yet.