Vanderbilt, peer institutions file new amicus brief opposing travel ban

On April 20, Vanderbilt University joined 29 of the nation’s other leading universities in filing a joint amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the preliminary injunction issued against President Donald Trump’s March 6 Executive Order.

The order suspends entry into the United States of nationals of six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—for 90 days. Though it excludes some visa holders, it would bar entry of individuals who seek the categories of visas most commonly relied upon by university faculty, staff and scholars.

On April 21, the court denied the Justice Department’s request that the court hear its appeal against the preliminary injunction, which was issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii March 29. The preliminary injunction was an extension of the temporary restraining order issued by that court March 15.

“The Executive Order at issue here, like its predecessor, threatens amici’s ability to continue to attract these individuals and thus to meet their goals of educating tomorrow’s leaders,” the amici wrote. “The Order threatens amici’s ability to attract the best students, faculty, staff and scholars from around the world, and thus directly affects amici’s ability to pursue their missions.”

The universities also argued that though the ban has been halted, it is already having an impact on their ability to attract students from these and other countries.

“The Order was issued in the same time period that amici sent some admissions offers to prospective international students; given the looming deadline for those individuals to accept or decline amici’s offers, and their possible inability to obtain visas before the fall semester begins, many of them may choose to pursue their education in other countries, rather than in the U.S. Amici are experiencing the Order’s costs absent any evidence that all or even an appreciable number of nationals from these six countries—all of whom the government already significantly vets before permitting them to study or work here—pose any threat to the safety or security of the U.S. or amici’s campuses.”

The April 20 brief is the third amicus brief Vanderbilt has signed opposing the travel ban. The previous briefs were filed April 4 and Feb. 13.

In addition to Vanderbilt, the other signatories are:

  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Bucknell University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Middlebury College
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Rice University
  • Stanford University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Southern California
  • Washington University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Yale University