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Congressional Muslim: Travel Ban Ruling Will be 'Marker of Shame' in U.S. Like Plessy v. Ferguson

Keith Ellison walks down the House steps

WASHINGTON -- One of two Muslim members of Congress said that today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision that upheld the Trump administration's travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries will go down in history as a "marker of shame" from the high court like Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 ruling that upheld segregation laws as constitutional.

The case Trump v. Hawaii involved the state's lawsuit to block the ban on travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. It was the third iteration of the ban, dropping Iraq and Chad from the list.

Hawaii had argued that the ban, coming after Trump's campaign statement vowing to block Muslims from entering the nation, was motivated by religious discrimination instead of national security.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who penned the opinion for the majority, said the ban 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," he added.

Roberts noted that in reviewing the ban "we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself."

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee who is running for Minnesota attorney general instead of seeking another term in Congress, fired off a statement declaring the decision "undermines the core value of religious tolerance on which America was founded."

"I am deeply disappointed that this ruling gives legitimacy to discrimination and Islamophobia," he said. “America holds a unique place in the world as a nation of immigrants. Unlike some other countries, we welcome refugees, asylum seekers, and dreamers fleeing war and instability in other parts of the world. America is and must remain the ‘land of the free’ where the family escaping persecution in North Korea or civil war in Syria can seek shelter and thrive.”

Ellison called the ruling "unjust" like "the Korematsu decision that upheld Japanese internment camps or Plessy v. Ferguson that established ‘separate but equal.’"

Like those rulings, he said, "this decision will someday serve as a marker of shame."

"Until then, we must keep fighting for an America that recognizes that every human life has value and reflects our values of generosity and inclusion for all," he added.

The other Muslim member of Congress, Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), tweeted, "This decision is about presidential authority, NOT an affirmation of the President’s bigoted policy or history of targeting immigrants. His policy continues to hurt countless families across our country. Congress must vote to strike down this affront to our values as Americans."

Neil Katyal, the former acting solicitor general of the United States who led the arguments against the travel ban, echoed the call for a legislative fix.