The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday reinstating a portion of President Trump’s Muslim ban is an alarming step to legitimizing anti-Muslim bigotry and possibly even one day legalizing discrimination against American Muslims. If you have any doubt, just check out Twitter, as self-professed Trump supporters cheered what they saw as being a first step on the way to Trump’s declared goal of a “total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States.”
But why wouldn’t they rejoice, considering 65 percent of GOP primary voters support Trump’s call for a total Muslim ban? Yet we are told time and time again that Trump voters were motivated by “economic anxiety” not bigotry. It’s hard to even write that line without laughing.
Yes, I understand that the Supreme Court’s decision is limited in scope and that even the liberal justices apparently agreed to it until the case is fully briefed and argued in the fall, but that doesn’t in any way reduce the concern that the message sent is that Muslims don’t belong in America. A message that Trump despicably made many times on the campaign trail and even after being sworn in as president.
For example, in addition to Trump’s call for a Muslim ban, he declared irresponsibly that “Islam hates us” and lied that “thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey on 9/11. And as president, Trump has made it clear with his actions that American Muslims—as opposed to foreign Muslims who give him gold necklaces or help him make money—are not a part of his view of America.
As I pointed out last week, after the recent terror attack in London by a white anti-Muslim bigot who has since been charged with terrorism, Trump offered zero sympathy on Twitter for the Muslim victims. But after the London bridge terror attack just three weeks earlier that had been perpetrated by Muslims, Trump quickly took to Twitter to not just express condolences but to gin up fears of more terrorism.
And Trump recently amplified the message that he doesn’t view Muslims as fellow Americans as Ramadan came to a close on Sunday. You see, every president since 1996 has held a dinner during Ramadan in the White House to commemorate this holiday. George W. Bush even held one the Ramadan after 9/11 to send a message to Americans that Muslims are part of the fabric of our nation. But not Trump. The man—who, when he implemented his original Muslim ban, made an exception for Christian refugees while leaving Muslim refugees to die on the killing fields of places like Syria—would not be seen sitting with American Muslims in the White House.
The Supreme Court’s ruling distressingly confirms Trump’s message that Muslims are inherently dangerous and are not like the rest of us. And just so it’s clear, this is a Muslim ban. True, it’s not a total ban on every Muslims but it’s one grounded in anti-Muslim animus. And that’s not just my opinion, but also the view of the various federal judges who have examined it.
As the Chief Judge of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Roger Gregory wrote in May in that court’s 10-3 ruling, Trump’s second executive order “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” Judge Gregory highlighted Trump’s anti-Muslim statements made during the campaign and found that they, “provide direct, specific evidence of what motivated both [executive orders]: President Trump’s desire to exclude Muslims from the United States.” The court concluded that Trump’s order thereby violated “one of our most cherished founding principles—that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another.”
While I’m a lawyer, my point is not to relitigate the case here. Although I will say that the Trump supporters’ nonstop claim that the executive order can’t be an unconstitutional “Muslim ban” if it doesn’t bar all 1 billion-plus Muslims from the United States is so legally wrong it’s laughable. As court after court noted in considering Trump’s two executive orders, they can be unconstitutional if the intent behind the order was to discriminate against a specific religion.
The Supreme Court’s ruling Monday is indeed limited in that it only bars people from the designated six Muslim majority counties “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” But it’s still stunning given Trump’s documented animus toward Muslims that the Court could legitimize his views with this decision.
I’m not optimistic given the current make up of the Supreme Court that come the fall they will hold the executive orders to be unconstitutional. Rather they will likely uphold it. Once that happens, is there any doubt that Trump will then try to step by step impose a complete ban on Muslims that his base is so rabidly supports? And perhaps worse, will Trump next focus on restricting the rights of American Muslims? Every fiber of my being says he will.