“Although the amici States’ residents, institutions, industries, and economies differ in various ways, we now all stand together in facing concrete, immediate and irreparable harms from the Executive Order,” said the friend-of-the-court, or amicus, brief co-filed by 16 state attorneys general today.
“President Trump’s Executive Order is in direct conflict with the principles upon which our great state and this great nation was built upon,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin in a prepared statement. “We cannot allow, our Constitution and our constitutional rights to be trampled on, people to be discarded, or our freedoms to be restricted.”
In addition to Kilmartin, it was also signed by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. It was authored by Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania who then “sent it around to the group of AGs for input, which all AGs provided, including AG Kilmartin,” said Kilmartin spokeswoman Amy Kempe.
Kilmartin considered signing onto Washington and Minnesota’s lawsuit as a co-signer but instead decided to file a friend of the court, or amicus, brief, said Kempe. “We reviewed the language of the lawsuit filed by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and made the determination that while we do not have legal standing to join that lawsuit, but that, as we did today, we could file an amicus in support,” she said.
In a press release, Kilmartin noted the case’s special significance to Rhode Island, which boasts a storied tradition of being a place of sanctuary. “As a colony, Rhode Island was founded on religious tolerance,” he said. “We were formed by the visionaries and dissidents who were escaping religious persecution. In our earliest years, we became a haven for people of all faiths and beliefs.”
Kilmartin and the other attorneys general make the case that the states have standing because of a long list of ways the executive order does harm to their interests, including, according to a press release:
- “State Educational Institutions. The brief details the disruption of faculty staffing, student attendance, and on-going administration at state colleges and universities, as well as additional costs many of these resource-constrained public institutions cannot afford, caused by the immigration order. In particular, it notes the thousands of faculty and students from the seven affected countries who current work or study at Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, California, and Virginia state universities.
- “State Medical Institutions. The brief makes clear the similar injuries President Trump’s order causes to state medical institutions and the provision of care, disrupting the matching process at medical schools and impacting medical residents and other physicians, faculty, and researchers who have already been serving. These institutions serve some of the neediest populations, and are now at risk of decreased staffing as a result of the order.
- “Diminished Tax Revenues from Students, Tourists, and Business Visitors. The executive order abruptly halted the entry of students, tourists, and other visitors from the affected seven countries – and at the same time stopped the millions of dollars they contribute to the states’ economies. The brief also makes clear that there are longer-term harms to the states’ regional economies as a result of the order, as it hampers the movement of people and ideas into the states.
- “Irreparable Harm due to Establishment Clause Violations. As the states have made clear in other filings, the executive order represents an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – and this “erosion of religious liberties cannot be deterred by awarding damages to the victims of such erosion.”
- “Harm to States’ Sovereign and Quasi-Sovereign Interests in Enforcing Their Own Statutes. The executive order also undermines the states’ abilities to enforce their own antidiscrimination laws, ensure the benefits of existing federal laws and regulations – such as the Immigration and National Act – are not denied to individuals arriving in these states, and protect residents, businesses, and communities.”