Rule of Law Clinic Files Additional Amicus Brief in Travel Ban Case


On March 30, 2018, students from the Rule of Law Clinic filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a bipartisan group of 52 former senior national security officials.

The brief is in support of the State of Hawaii in a case challenging the latest iteration of the presidential administration’s travel ban, the third version of the ban.

“This brief, by our country’s most able bipartisan national security experts, confirms that the ban seriously harms our national security, while serving no national security interest,” said Professor Harold Hongju Koh, who runs the Rule of Law Clinic.

In the brief, officials argue that the sweeping and indefinite ban on travelers from eight countries, based on their national origin, not only fails to advance the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States, but also undermines those interests. They note that the ban, which has been repeated in a slightly modified version, did not emerge from the considered judgment of national security and foreign policy officials. In addition, the group outlines how the ban was not based on any credible intelligence and jeopardizes American foreign policy interests by threatening U.S. relations with international partners and disrupting ongoing counterterrorism efforts. For these reasons, the officials argue that the ban does not warrant the Supreme Court’s customary national security deference. 

The signatories include former cabinet officials, national security advisors, senators, ambassadors, and directors of national intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency from both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

The amici are represented by Professor Koh, Matt Blumenthal ’15, Phil Spector ’00 of Messing Spector; Jonathan Freiman ’98 and Tahlia Townsend ’05 of Wiggin & Dana of New Haven, Conn; and William Murphy and John Connolly of Zuckerman Spaeder of Washington, D.C. The students working on the case include Laith Aqel ‘19, Brandon Levin ‘20, Chris Looney ‘19, Josh Rubin ‘20, Zoe Weinberg ‘19, and Danielle Zucker ‘20. 

“It was an honor to work on behalf of a bipartisan group of leaders in national security and foreign policy in making the case that the travel ban undermines our national security and fails to live up to the values in our Constitution,” said Spector. “The students in the clinic have worked tirelessly over the past year and I couldn’t be prouder of the work we delivered for our clients.”

The Rule of Law Clinic focuses on maintaining U.S. rule of law and human rights commitments in four areas: national security, antidiscrimination, climate change, and democracy promotion. In addition to its work on the travel ban cases, the Clinic has also recently worked on issues related to the Administration’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, redistricting, and discrimination against Muslim groups.