Trump v. Hawaii
On January 28, 2017, according to Trump's key adviser, “When Donald Trump first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim Ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’” This was noted in Justice Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion of the June 26, 2018, Muslim Ban case, Trump v. Hawaii. Yet Chief Justice Roberts reasoned, “The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion.”
Did the text need to say anything about religion, when President Trump himself called the Executive Order a “Muslim Ban?” Our highest court failed us, largely because the Supreme Court did not review the Executive Order under strict scrutiny. This, despite Sotomayor’s dissent, citing Supreme Court precedent: “[I]n other Establishment Clause cases, including those involving claims of religious animus or discrimination, this Court has applied a more stringent standard of review.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court applied rational-basis scrutiny in Trump v. Hawaii.
As a Muslim-American attorney, I am affected by the Muslim Ban because our faith teaches us that everyone is our brother and sister in Islam. I grew up between San Diego and Phoenix within the Muslim community. I have lifelong Muslim-American friends with roots from Syria, Yemen, and Iran. In preparation to write this, I’ve asked some of them if they could tell me how the Muslim Ban directly impacted them. To my surprise, they declined to be interviewed for this blog in fear that they would be targeted in some way. This reminded me of how scared I was when I felt that I’d somehow be deported due to President Trump's first Executive Order on January 27, 2017. Many did not understand my fear since I’ve been a U.S. citizen for over 15 years now. My distress stemmed from the unknown and the rapid changes in the laws. I was paranoid that the laws would change while I traveled to a foreign country, and thereby, prevent me from returning home to San Diego. I did not genuinely believe I, a feisty attorney, would be denied entry with my U.S. Passport, but I did not want to go through the obstacle of having to argue my way back into my country. Sadly, I later learned from some of my friends that they did have an exceptionally difficult time entering the U.S. after they vacationed in Mexico. My fear was their reality.
The only positivity that comes from this Supreme Court's decision is that it forces all marginalized groups to be politically and socially aware. It is inhumane that now my brothers and sister in Islam will continue to live in fear because their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. cannot enter the U.S. to escape the wars in Syria, Yemen, Iran, Chad, and Somalia. The U.S. is effectively imprisoning them. Muslim-Americans contribute significantly to our San Diego community, as lawyers, doctors, professors, engineers, pharmacists, therapists, nurses, social workers, police officers, and the list goes on. Although Trump v. Hawaii was a defeat, the support from communities all over the country proves that nothing will puncture our hope. We will continue to stand together, as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Jylan Megahed co-chairs Lawyers Club’s Community Outreach Committee, works as a Family Law solo practitioner, and serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children in San Diego County.