St. Thomas Newsroom

Professor Tom Berg Joins Constitutional Law Scholars in Amicus Briefs Opposing Trump Travel Ban

Law Professor Thomas Berg speaks during a School of Law book discussion group at Professor Julie Oseid's house in south Minneapolis on February 20, 2017. School of Law Professors Julie Oseid and Tom Berg led the discussion of Ta-Nehisi Coates book "Between the World and Me."

University of St. Thomas law school Professor Tom Berg joined amicus briefs in the Fourth and Ninth circuits to oppose the Trump Administration’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, citing the Establishment, Free Exercise and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibit governmental action based on animus toward religions.

Berg is among a diverse group of leading constitutional law and religious liberty scholars who signed onto the briefs. Although the scholars hold varying views concerning the First Amendment’s religion clauses, they agree on the nature of President Donald Trump’s constitutional violation. They argue that evidence of anti-Muslim animus – including but not limited to campaign statements – is “overwhelming” in this case, and they also contend that the order is unlawful even if animus was not its sole motive.

The brief concludes, in part: “One of America’s foundational principles is to welcome people of all faiths and to reject religious intolerance. Issuing an order to keep Muslims out is inconsistent with that principle as expressed through the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Nor can the President’s order be saved by a pretextual, after-the-fact appeal to national security. Respectfully, this Court should not abide an order widely—and correctly—understood to flow from anti-Islamic animus.”

Berg is the James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy at St. Thomas and director of the law school’s Religious Liberty Clinic. Professor Virgil Wiebe, Robins Kaplan Director of Clinical Education at St. Thomas, also has taken a public stance against the travel ban.