June 12, 2018
News Press Release

ZOA’s Amicus Brief’s Arguments Featured in U.S. Supreme Court Travel Ban Argument

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Special Projects Elizabeth A. Berney,esq. released the following statement:

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to uphold President Trump’s Immigration Proclamation No. 9645 (Sept. 27, 2018).   Thus, this issue will soon be front page news again.  The Proclamation suspended entry from eight countries (Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Chad, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela) that do not share information or have available adequate vetting information with the United States and/or that present other risks to Americans’ safety.  (Chad has since been removed from the list.)  

ZOA was pleased to see that arguments that ZOA presented in its amicus brief in support of President Trump were featured in the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral argument on April 25, 2018; as well as in pre-argument legal articles (See,Groups Draw Battle Lines in High Court Travel Ban Case,” by Nicole Narea, Law 360, Apr. 19, 2018); and in numerous press reports following the oral argument. However, we were disappointed that instead of crediting ZOA’s amicus brief and/or the data sources cited in ZOA’s brief, as the source of the statistical arguments favoring the Proclamation, the New York Times mistakenly implied that Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. pulled these statistics out of thin air, without any basis.  The ZOA is also disappointed that the New York Times has still not published our letter asking the Times to correct this error.  

ZOA: Trump’s proclamation is not a ‘Muslim Ban’ because it only affects 5 out of 50 majority Muslim countries comprising only 8% of the world’s Muslims.

ZOA’s amicus brief in support of President Trump (available on the U.S. Supreme Court’s website here), pointed out that the Proclamation was not a “Muslim ban” because the Proclamation affected only six (now only 5) out of at least 50 majority Muslim countries, comprising only 8 percent of the world’s Muslim population meaning that 92% of the world’s Muslims would remain eligible to legally enter the US. The Proclamation affects only one (Iran) of the 10 countries having the most Muslims.  (ZOA Amicus Brief, pages 4-10.)  The statistics set forth in ZOA’s brief were based on the most reliable population data available: the 2018 CIA World Fact Book and Pew Research Center population studies.  

In addition, ZOA’s brief described other important factors justifying suspending entry from the affected countries:  Iran, Syria and North Korea are designated state sponsors of terrorism.   In all of the five currently affected Muslim majority nations subject to the ban (Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya), violence and terror has caused still-continuing closures of U.S. embassies – resulting in a lack of on-the-ground presence that makes proper vetting virtually impossible.  (ZOA Amicus Br., pages 10-15.) ZOA quoted extensive testimony from Obama administration officials and other bi-partisan and international experts that on-the-ground presence is the hallmark of adequate vetting – and is lacking in the countries affected by the travel ban. (ZOA Amicus Br., pages 16-29.)

ZOA was pleased and proud to see that during U.S. Supreme Court oral argument on April 25, 2018, Justice Alito questioned counsel for those seeking to invalidate the Proclamation, along the very same lines set forth in ZOA’s amicus brief, as follows:  

JUSTICE ALITO:  “[W]ould any reasonable observer reading this proclamation, with — without taking into account statements, think that this was a Muslim ban?  I mean, there are — I think there are 50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world.  Five — five countries — five predominantly Muslim countries are on this list.  The population of the — of the predominantly Muslim countries on this list make up about 8 percent of the world’s Muslim population. . . .

If you looked at the 10 countries with the most Muslims, exactly one -­ . . . Iran, would be on that list of the top 10. . . . So would a reasonable observer think this was a Muslim ban? . . . . My only point is that if you look at what was done, it does not look at all like a Muslim ban.  There are other justifications that jump out as to why these particular countries were put on — on the list.  So you — it seems to me the list creates a strong inference that this was not done for that invidious purpose.”  (Supreme Court argument transcript, pages 63-65.) 

ZOA quoted extensive testimony from Obama administration officials and other bi-partisan and international experts that on-the-ground presence is the hallmark of adequate vetting – and is lacking in the countries affected by the travel ban.

Justice Alito’s statement was widely quoted by the press.  See, e.g., Supreme Court Shows Support for President Trump’s Immigration Travel Ban,” by Richard Wolf, USA Today, Apr. 25, 2018 (“‘If you look at what was done, it does not look … like a Muslim ban,’ Justice Samuel Alito said, noting it applies to about 8% of the world’s Muslims.”); “Kennedy, Conservatives Appear to Back Trump on Travel Ban,” by Ariane de Vogue and Saba Hamedy, CNN, Apr. 25, 2018 (“Alito also noted that the ban only impacts a handful of Muslim-majority countries, at one point stating this does ‘not look like a Muslim ban.’”); “Supreme Court Appears Ready to Uphold Trump’s Travel Ban,” by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung, Reuters, Apr. 25, 2018 (“‘My only point is that if you look at what was done, it does not look at all like a Muslim ban,’ Conservative Justice Samuel Alito said.”)

Unfortunately, the New York Times article, “Key Justices Seem Skeptical of Challenge to Trump’s Travel Ban,” by Adam Liptak & Michael D. Shear, Apr. 25, 2018, introduced an extensive quote of Justice Alito’s statement by claiming that “Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. added his own statistics”  thereby mistakenly implying that Justice Alito’s statement had no factual basis.  The Times has failed to publish ZOA’s letter pointing out that the statistics quoted by Justice Alito were set forth in ZOA’s brief, based upon the reliable 2018 CIA World Fact Book and Pew Research Center population studies. 

ZOA’s brief also pointed out that the Pew Research Center calculated that President Trump’s first travel order “would affect only about 12% of the world’s Muslims.”  The third travel ban reduced this to 8% by excluding two predominantly Muslim countries, Iraq and Sudan.  The recent exclusion of Chad, and the travel order’s many other exclusions and exceptions further reduced the percentage of Muslims affected to below 8%. (ZOA Amicus Br., pages 8-9.)

ZOA hopes that our amicus brief will have a favorable impact on the Court’s decision this month to protect us from unvettable people and from possible terrorists entering the country endangering us all.