Lawsuit Against Trump’s Muslim Ban Can Proceed, Federal Judge Rules

May 3, 2019

The decision is an important step in the fight to end the discriminatory ban that continues to separate families and stigmatize American Muslims.

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The Brennan Center won a court ruling yesterday that allowed its lawsuit against the Muslim Ban to proceed.

The three consolidated cases – Zakzok v. Trump, Int’l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, and Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump – have been brought on behalf of American Muslims separated from family members who are citizens of countries covered by the ban. Plaintiffs have asked the court to rule that the ban violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act.

A federal judge in Maryland today rejected the administration’s request to throw the case out, including the argument that dismissal was required by the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Trump v. Hawaii, which refused to uphold a preliminary injunction against the ban while lower courts considered the merits of the case. 

"This is a big win for American Muslims and all Americans who value religious freedom," said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. "The court firmly rejected the government's motion to shut down the case, so we can move ahead to demonstrate conclusively that the Muslim Ban was motivated by prejudice not proof.”

Rejecting the government’s arguments, the court ruled that the facts alleged by plaintiffs were sufficient to overcome a motion to dismiss, noting that the plaintiffs had put forward specific allegations to demonstrate that the ban “is not rationally related to the legitimate national security and information-sharing justifications” identified by the administration and “was motivated only by an illegitimate hostility to Muslims.” The judge granted the government’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ statutory challenges claims, although these may be re-filed.

The Brennan Center was joined in bringing the lawsuit by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jethro Eisenstein of Profeta & Eisenstein, and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. 

Following today’s decision, the case will move into discovery, allowing the Center to obtain further information to demonstrate the unconstitutionality of the ban.



Judge Chuang’s Memorandum Opinion:

Brennan’s Travel Ban Litigation page:

Travel Ban blog post:

Brennan’s Extreme Vetting and the Muslim Ban report


The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that works to reform, revitalize – and when necessary, defend – our country's systems of democracy and justice.