SCOTUS Brief Shows Religious Discrimination in the Plain Text of the Muslim Ban

Emphasis on “Honor Killings” a Clear Appeal to anti-Muslim Bigotry

Washington, DC – Last night, Muslim Advocates filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding President Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban. The brief highlights how anti-Muslim bigotry is evident in the plain text of the executive order.  

Much of the emphasis in the lower-court challenges to the Muslim ban centered on the voluminous record of anti-Muslim statements and campaign promises made by President Trump and his surrogates.  This amicus brief, which is filed on behalf of some of the nation’s leading social science researchers, documents how references to the term “honor killings” in the Muslim ban can only be properly understood as reflections of anti-Muslim animus.

As the brief notes, “the two Executive Orders giving rise to this litigation both contain on their face an inexplicable reference that reveals an invidious anti-Muslim intent.” The practice of ‘honor killings’ has never been linked to international terrorism, nor is there any known association between “honor killings” and the six banned countries.

Instead, the term is frequently “used in current political discourse  as a coded message that invokes and reinforces animus against one religious group— Muslims—by painting them as violent and uncivilized. The term is routinely invoked in discriminatory invective as a way to stigmatize Muslims.”

“At every stage of developing this executive order, President Trump mounted a transparent attack on Muslims, from statements and tweets during the campaign, to remarks he made during and after the signing of the orders, all the way down to the plain text of the orders themselves,” said Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates.  “The President’s actions cannot be reconciled with the fundamental values and protections enshrined in the Constitution. We hope that upon full consideration of the case, the Supreme Court will join other courts in clearly and unequivocally stating that no one, including the President, has the right to discriminate against people simply because of their religion.”

Along with the amicus brief, Muslim Advocates is also releasing a fact sheet and issue brief on the significance of the reference to “honor killings” in President Trump’s Muslim and refugee bans.

The amicus brief was filed by Muslim Advocates, along with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP and law professor Aziz Huq.


  • The amicus brief is available here.
  • A one-page fact sheet on honor killings is available here.
  • A detailed issue brief is available here.

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.