MoFo Gives Voice to Religious Opposition to Travel Ban

This week, Morrison & Foerster represented nearly 50 faith-based organizations who filed amicus briefs in the United States Courts of Appeal in the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, in opposition to the Executive Order that prohibits refugees from around the world as well as citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Both courts are hearing challenges to the revised “travel ban” that was issued in early March after courts enjoined enforcement of the original Executive Order.

Supporting religious organizations include the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the senior ecclesiastical officer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Unitarian Universalist Society, Islamic Relief USA, UNITED SIKHS, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Church World Service, which is one of the nation’s largest refugee resettlement agencies; American Jewish World Service; Catholic Charities Social Services, NY, and the Interfaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees joined interfaith groups, individual churches, congregations of Roman Catholic priests and nuns, and religiously affiliated social justice organizations to support the brief.

The amicus curiae brief filed in the Ninth Circuit focused attention on the Executive Order’s ban on all refugee admissions to the country. The amici pointed out that the universal commands central to their faiths require a welcome to the stranger and assistance to those in need. They discussed aspects of their religious missions that are inhibited by the Executive Order. They also spoke of their allegiance to the principles of religious freedom expressed by the First Amendment, and denounced the ban as anti-Muslim. In the Fourth Circuit, where the court is considering only the legality of the six-country travel ban, the brief primarily discussed the anti-Muslim nature of the ban and highlighted its impact on refugees from the targeted countries.

The firm previously filed briefs on behalf of a broad interfaith group of in federal district courts in Maryland and New York as they considered challenges to the first Executive Order.

The MoFo team representing the amici curiae was led by Washington, D.C. partner Marc Hearron, and the team included Northern Virginia partner Bradley Wine; Los Angeles partner Purvi Patel; New York senior pro bono counsel Jennifer Brown; Northern Virginia associate Sandeep Nandivada; and New York associate Amanda Aikman.