University of St. Thomas law school Professor Tom Berg has again joined an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, this time in a suit that will be argued this week before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The brief, filed in support of the respondents in Trump v. State of Hawaii, identifies a distinct legal principle to conclude that the ban is unconstitutional: the long-settled prohibition on governmental acts based on animus toward a particular religious group.
Berg is among a diverse group of leading constitutional law scholars who signed onto the brief. 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: “Through his statements, the President has demonstrated to the American people—and to a global audience—that the Proclamation exists to stigmatize and denigrate Muslims. That understanding is now widely shared, unlike the security rationales that the President’s lawyers have emphasized in their court filings. If this Court were to uphold the President’s travel ban, it would teach an entire generation that principles of religious liberty do not prohibit the President from exercising his vast powers on the basis of a desire to harm a religious minority. That is wrong as a matter of constitutional law, and it would be a disastrous message to send at this moment in history.”
Berg is the James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy at St. Thomas and director of the law school’s Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic.