The U.S. Catholic bishops submitted a brief to the Supreme Court declaring that President Donald Trump’s ban on migration from five Muslim countries was “blatant religious discrimination”—and the lawyer representing opponents of the measure reminded the justices of that line in oral arguments held Wednesday.
Attorney Neal Katyal referred to the bishops’ strongly worded friend-of-the-court brief as Justice Samuel Alito pressed him for evidence that a “reasonable person” would view Trump’s proclamation as discriminating against Muslims.
“This is a ban that really does fall almost exclusively on Muslims,” Katyal said. “…Look at the wide variety of amicus briefs filed in this case from every corner of society, representing millions and millions of people, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which calls it, quote, ‘blatant religious discrimination’”—
He was cut off, but the point was made before a court with five Catholic justices and one Episcopalian who was raised Catholic, Neil Gorsuch. The bishops’ brief cited Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets as evidence that the president’s order “arises out of express hostility to Islam,” and violates the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.
“Such blatant religious discrimination is repugnant to the Catholic faith, core American values, and the United States Constitution. It poses a substantial threat to religious liberty that this Court has never tolerated before and should not tolerate now,” the brief says. “Having once borne the brunt of severe discriminatory treatment, particularly in the immigration context, the Catholic Church will not sit silent while others suffer on account of their religion.”