Akin Gump Serves as Lead Pro Bono Counsel on U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Travel Ban Litigation

(Washington, D.C.) – Akin Gump served as lead pro bono counsel on an amicus brief filed today in the United States Supreme Court in the Muslim travel ban litigation. The amicus group includes the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, the children of litigants who challenged orders that led to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, civil rights organizations and national bar associations of color. The brief supports legal challenges to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13780 (March 6, 2017), titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The cases, to be argued October 10, are Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, No. 16-1436, and Trump v. State of Hawaii, No. 16-1540.

The challengers assert that the Executive Order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act. The federal government argues that the Court should defer wholly to the executive branch because the Executive Order concerns immigration and national security, and that courts have historically deferred to the executive branch on these issues. Alternatively, the government argues that the Executive Order presents facially legitimate and bona fide justifications. 

In the brief filed today, the amicus group argues that the Supreme Court can and should meaningfully review the Executive Order for violation of the Constitution.

Lead pro bono counsel Pratik Shah, co-head of Akin Gump’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, said, “Justice Jackson warned in his dissent in Korematsu against a judicial rubber stamp of discrimination in the name of national security, lest it become ‘like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.’ Our brief provides historical context to remind the Court of the dangers of reloading that weapon.”

Corporate partner Alice Hsu led the Akin Gump team on behalf of the amici. She was joined by Mr. Shah and litigation partner Robert Johnson; litigation senior counsel Jessica Weisel, counsel Martine Cicconi*, associates Elizabeth Rosen, Daniella Roseman and Nathaniel Botwinick; corporate law clerk Elizabeth Atkins; and investment management law clerk William Meehan.

To read the brief in its entirety, please click here.

Akin Gump also served as pro bono counsel to the Korematsu Center on amicus briefs filed before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in State of Hawai`i and Ismail Elshikh v. Trump and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump. More information about that work can be found here.

* Licensed to practice in California only and under the direct supervision of a partner of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP who is an enrolled, active member of the District of Columbia Bar; applicant for admission to the D.C. Bar.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

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