Harvard Amicus Brief Moot After New Travel Ban

Harvard filed an amicus brief last week opposing President Donald Trump’s immigration order, a legal move quickly made moot after Trump issued a new executive order replacing his previous efforts.

Filed September 18, 2017, the brief was intended for the Supreme Court before the justices cancelled a hearing on Trump’s immigration order once he replaced it.

“The Order contradicts the values that American colleges and universities have traditionally touted as benefits of studying and working here, including the freedom of religion and equality embodied in the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” the brief, signed by more than 30 schools, reads.

Trump issued his new immigration order, which indefinitely bans travel to the United States from seven countries, on Sunday. It is the president’s most recent attempt to restrict immigration into the United States: His first two orders drew repeated legal scrutiny, and several judges had blocked them before the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments on their legality.

Copley Protest
Demonstrators hold signs opposing President Donald Trump's first immigration ban in January.

With Sunday’s new ban, the justices cleared the case from their calendar. Both sides will submit briefs by October 5 presenting arguments about whether the Supreme Court should still decide on this case or dismiss it.


Trump’s current ban targets most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, and, unlike his previous orders, is permanent.

Harvard has repeatedly opposed Trump’s executive orders on immigration, filing a number of amicus briefs to argue that they hinder the University’s ability to attract talented scholars from across the world. Trump’s original ban temporarily prevented at least four Harvard affiliates from entering the country.

Some Harvard groups have also issued responses to the new executive order. Harvard’s International Office updated its website to offer advice to international students in light of the new ban.

Describing the ban’s aftermath as “a very fluid situation,” the message on the website urges international affiliates to consult their International Office advisers before going abroad.

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.


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