ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
DERRICK K. WATSON, District Judge.
On January 27, 2017, the President of the United States issued Executive Order No. 13,769 entitled, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." See 82 Fed. Reg. 8977 (Jan. 27, 2017). On March 6, 2017, the President issued another Executive Order, No. 13,780, identically entitled, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." (the "Executive Order"). See 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 6, 2017). The Executive Order revokes Executive Order No. 13,769 upon taking effect.
Plaintiffs State of Hawai`i ("State") and Ismail Elshikh, Ph.D. seek a nationwide temporary restraining order that would prohibit the Federal Defendants
The President's Executive Orders
Executive Order No. 13,769
Executive Order No. 13,769 became effective upon signing on January 27, 2017. See 82 Fed. Reg. 8977. It inspired several lawsuits across the nation in the days that followed.
This Court did not rule on the State's initial TRO motion because later that same day, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington entered a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the Government from enforcing the same provisions of Executive Order No. 13,769 targeted by the State here. See Washington v. Trump, 2017 WL 462040. As such, the Court stayed this case, effective February 7, 2017, specifying that the stay would continue "as long as the February 3, 2017 injunction entered in Washington v. Trump remain[ed] in full force and effect, or until further order of this Court." ECF Nos. 27 & 32.
On February 4, 2017, the Government filed an emergency motion in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a stay of the Washington TRO, pending appeal.
On March 8, 2017, the Ninth Circuit granted the Government's unopposed motion to voluntarily dismiss the appeal. See Order, No. 17-35105 (9th Cir. Mar. 8, 2017), ECF No. 187. As a result, the same sections of Executive Order No. 13,769 initially challenged by the State in the instant action remain enjoined as of the date of this Order.
The New Executive Order
Section 2 of the new Executive Order suspends from "entry into the United States" for a period of 90 days, certain nationals of six countries referred to in Section 217(a)(12) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq.: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The 90-day suspension does not apply to: (1) lawful permanent residents; (2) any foreign national admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the Executive Order's effective date (March 16, 2017); (3) any individual who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of the Executive Order or issued anytime thereafter, that permits travel to the United States, such as an advance parole document; (4) any dual national traveling on a passport not issued by one of the six listed countries; (5) any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic-type or other specified visa; and (6) any foreign national who has been granted asylum, any refugee already admitted to the United States, or any individual granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture. See Exec. Order § 3(b).
Under Section 3(c)'s waiver provision, foreign nationals of the six countries who are subject to the suspension of entry may nonetheless seek entry on a case-by-case basis. The Executive Order includes the following list of circumstances when such waivers "could be appropriate:"
Exec. Order § 3(c).
Section 6 of the Executive Order suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. The suspension applies both to travel into the United States and to decisions on applications for refugee status for the same period. See Exec. Order § 6(a). It excludes refugee applicants who were formally scheduled for transit by the Department of State before the March 16, 2017 effective date. Like the 90-day suspension, the 120-day suspension includes a waiver provision that allows the Secretaries of State and DHS to admit refugee applicants on a case-by-case basis. See Exec. Order § 6(c). The Executive Order identifies examples of circumstances in which waivers may be warranted, including: where the admission of the individual would allow the United States to conform its conduct to a pre-existing international agreement or denying admission would cause undue hardship. Exec. Order § 6(c). Unlike Executive Order No. 13,769, the new Executive Order does not expressly refer to an individual's status as a "religious minority" or refer to any particular religion, and it does not include a Syria-specific ban on refugees.
Section 1 states that the purpose of the Executive Order is to "protect [United States] citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals." Section 1(h) identifies two examples of terrorism-related crimes committed in the United States by persons entering the country either "legally on visas" or "as refugees":
Exec. Order § 1(h).
By its terms, the Executive Order also represents a response to the Ninth Circuit's decision in Washington v. Trump. See 847 F.3d 1151. According to the Government, it "clarifies and narrows the scope of Executive action regarding immigration, extinguishes the need for emergent consideration, and eliminates the potential constitutional concerns identified by the Ninth Circuit." See Notice of Filing of Executive Order 4-5, ECF No. 56.
It is with this backdrop that we turn to consideration of Plaintiffs' restraining order application.
Plaintiffs' Motion For TRO
Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 64) and Motion for TRO (ECF No. 65) contend that portions of the new Executive Order suffer from the same infirmities as those provisions of Executive Order No. 13,769 enjoined in Washington, 847 F.3d 1151. Once more, the State asserts that the Executive Order inflicts constitutional and statutory injuries upon its residents, employers, and educational institutions, while Dr. Elshikh alleges injuries on behalf of himself, his family, and members of his Mosque. SAC ¶ 1.
Plaintiffs allege that the Executive Order subjects portions of the State's population, including Dr. Elshikh and his family, to discrimination in violation of both the Constitution and the INA, denying them their right, among other things, to associate with family members overseas on the basis of their religion and national origin. The State purports that the Executive Order has injured its institutions, economy, and sovereign interest in maintaining the separation between church and state. SAC ¶¶ 4-5.
According to Plaintiffs, the Executive order also results in "their having to live in a country and in a State where there is the perception that the Government has established a disfavored religion." SAC ¶ 5. Plaintiffs assert that by singling out nationals from the six predominantly Muslim countries, the Executive Order causes harm by stigmatizing not only immigrants and refugees, but also Muslim citizens of the United States. Plaintiffs point to public statements by the President and his advisors regarding the implementation of a "Muslim ban," which Plaintiffs contend is the tacit and illegitimate motivation underlying the Executive Order. See SAC ¶¶ 35-51. For example, Plaintiffs point to the following statements made contemporaneously with the implementation of Executive Order No. 13,769 and in its immediate aftermath:
SAC ¶¶ 48-51, 58-60 (footnotes and citations omitted).
Plaintiffs also highlight statements by members of the Administration prior to the signing of the new Executive Order, seeking to tie its content to Executive Order No. 13,769 enjoined by the Washington TRO. In particular, they note that:
SAC ¶ 74(a) (citing Miller: New order will be responsive to the judicial ruling; Rep. Ron DeSantis: Congress has gotten off to a slow start, The First 100 Days (Fox News television broadcast Feb. 21, 2017), transcript available at https://goo.gl/wcHvHH (rush transcript)). Plaintiffs argue that, in light of these and similar statements "where the President himself has repeatedly and publicly espoused an improper motive for his actions, the President's action must be invalidated." Pls.' Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for TRO 2, ECF No. 65-1.
In addition to these accounts, Plaintiffs describe a draft report from the DHS, which they contend undermines the purported national security rationale for the Executive Order. See SAC ¶ 61 (citing SAC, Ex. 10, ECF No. 64-10). The February 24, 2017 draft report states that citizenship is an "unlikely indicator" of terrorism threats against the United States and that very few individuals from the seven countries included in Executive Order No. 13,769 had carried out or attempted to carry out terrorism activities in the United States. SAC ¶ 61 (citing SAC, Ex. 10, ECF No. 64-10). According to Plaintiffs, this and other evidence demonstrates the Administration's pretextual justification for the Executive Order.
Plaintiffs assert the following causes of action: (1) violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (Count I); (2) violation of the equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause on the basis of religion, national origin, nationality, or alienage (Count II); (3) violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment based upon substantive due process rights (Count III); (4) violation of the procedural due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment (Count IV); (5) violation of the INA due to discrimination on the basis of nationality, and exceeding the President's authority under Sections 1182(f) and 1185(a) (Count V); (6) substantially burdening the exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), 42 U.S.C. § 200bb-1(a) (Count VI); (7) substantive violation of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 706 (2)(A)-(C), through violations of the Constitution, INA, and RFRA (Count VII); and (8) procedural violation of the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706 (2)(D) (Count VIII).
Plaintiffs contend that these alleged violations of law have caused and continue to cause them irreparable injury. To that end, through their Motion for TRO, Plaintiffs seek to temporarily enjoin Defendants from enforcing and implementing Sections 2 and 6 of the Executive Order. Mot. for TRO 4, ECF No. 65. They argue that "both of these sections are unlawful in all of their applications:" Section 2 discriminates on the basis of nationality, Sections 2 and 6 exceed the President's authority under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182(f) and 1185(a), and both provisions are motivated by anti-Muslim animus. TRO Mem. 50, Dkt. No. 65-1. Moreover, Plaintiffs assert that both sections infringe "on the `due process rights' of numerous U.S. citizens and institutions by barring the entry of non-citizens with whom they have close relationships." TRO Mem. 50 (quoting Washington, 847 F.3d at 1166).
Defendants oppose the Motion for TRO. The Court held a hearing on the matter on March 15, 2017, before the Executive Order was scheduled to take effect.
Plaintiffs Have Demonstrated Standing At This Preliminary Phase
Article III Standing
Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution permits federal courts to consider only "cases" and "controversies." Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 516 (2007). "Those two words confine `the business of federal courts to questions presented in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of resolution through the judicial process.'" Id. (quoting Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 95 (1968)). "[T]o satisfy Article III's standing requirements, a plaintiff must show (1) it has suffered an `injury in fact' that is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision." Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)).
"At bottom, `the gist of the question of standing' is whether petitioners have `such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination.'" Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 624 F.3d 1043, 1048 (9th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (quoting Massachusetts, 549 U.S. at 517)).
"At this very preliminary stage of the litigation, the [Plaintiffs] may rely on the allegations in their Complaint and whatever other evidence they submitted in support of their TRO motion to meet their burden." Washington, 847 F.3d at 1159 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561). "With these allegations and evidence, the [Plaintiffs] must make a `clear showing of each element of standing.'" Id. (quoting Townley v. Miller, 722 F.3d 1128, 1133 (9th Cir. 2013), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 907 (2014)). At this preliminary stage of the proceedings, on the record presented, Plaintiffs meet the threshold Article III standing requirements.
The State Has Standing
The State alleges standing based both upon injuries to its proprietary interests and to its quasi-sovereign interests, i.e., in its role as parens patriae.
Hawaii primarily asserts two proprietary injuries stemming from the Executive Order. First, the State alleges the impacts that the Executive Order will have on the University of Hawaii system, both financial and intangible. The University is an arm of the State. See Haw. Const. art. 10, §§ 5, 6; Haw. Rev. Stat. ("HRS") § 304A-103. The University recruits students, permanent faculty, and visiting faculty from the targeted countries. See, e.g., Suppl. Decl. of Risa E. Dickson ¶¶ 6-8, Mot. for TRO, Ex. D-1, ECF No. 66-6. Students or faculty suspended from entry are deterred from studying or teaching at the University, now and in the future, irrevocably damaging their personal and professional lives and harming the educational institutions themselves. See id.
There is also evidence of a financial impact from the Executive Order on the University system. The University recruits from the six affected countries. It currently has twenty-three graduate students, several permanent faculty members, and twenty-nine visiting faculty members from the six countries listed. Suppl. Dickson Decl. ¶ 7. The State contends that any prospective recruits who are without visas as of March 16, 2017 will not be able to travel to Hawaii to attend the University. As a result, the University will not be able to collect the tuition that those students would have paid. Suppl. Dickson Decl. ¶ 8 ("Individuals who are neither legal permanent residents nor current visa holders will be entirely precluded from considering our institution."). These individuals' spouses, parents, and children likewise would be unable to join them in the United States. The State asserts that the Executive Order also risks "dissuad[ing] some of [the University's] current professors or scholars from continuing their scholarship in the United States and at [the University]." Suppl. Dickson Decl. ¶ 9.
The State argues that the University will also suffer non-monetary losses, including damage to the collaborative exchange of ideas among people of different religions and national backgrounds on which the State's educational institutions depend. Suppl. Dickson Decl. ¶¶ 9-10, ECF no. 66-6; see also Original Dickson Decl. ¶ 13, Mot. for TRO, Ex. D-2, ECF, 66-7; SAC ¶ 94. This will impair the University's ability to recruit and accept the most qualified students and faculty, undermine its commitment to being "one of the most diverse institutions of higher education" in the world, Suppl. Dickson Decl. ¶ 11, and grind to a halt certain academic programs, including the University's Persian Language and Culture program, id. ¶ 8. Cf. Washington, 847 F.3d at 1160 ("[The universities] have a mission of `global engagement' and rely on such visiting students, scholars, and faculty to advance their educational goals.").
These types of injuries are nearly indistinguishable from those found to support standing in the Ninth Circuit's decision in Washington. See 847 F.3d at 1161 ("The necessary connection can be drawn in at most two logical steps: (1) the Executive Order prevents nationals of seven countries from entering Washington and Minnesota; (2) as a result, some of these people will not enter state universities, some will not join those universities as faculty, some will be prevented from performing research, and some will not be permitted to return if they leave. And we have no difficulty concluding that the States' injuries would be redressed if they could obtain the relief they ask for: a declaration that the Executive Order violates the Constitution and an injunction barring its enforcement.").
The second proprietary injury alleged Hawaii alleges is to the State's main economic driver: tourism. The State contends that the Executive Order will "have the effect of depressing international travel to and tourism in Hawai`i," which "directly harms Hawaii's businesses and, in turn, the State's revenue." SAC ¶ 100, ECF No. 64. See also Suppl. Decl. of Luis P. Salaveria ¶¶ 6-10, Mot. for TRO, Ex. C-1, ECF No. 66-4 ("I expect, given the uncertainty the new executive order and its predecessor have caused to international travel generally, that these changing policies may depress tourism, business travel, and financial investments in Hawaii."). The State points to preliminary data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which suggests that during the interval of time that the first Executive Order was in place, the number of visitors to Hawai`i from the Middle East dropped (data including visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen). See Suppl. Decl. of George Szigeti, ¶¶ 5-8, Mot. for TRO, Ex. B-1, ECF No. 66-2; see also SAC ¶ 100 (identifying 278 visitors in January 2017, compared to 348 visitors from that same region in January 2016).
For purposes of the instant Motion for TRO, the State has preliminarily demonstrated that: (1) its universities will suffer monetary damages and intangible harms; (2) the State's economy is likely to suffer a loss of revenue due to a decline in tourism; (3) such harms can be sufficiently linked to the Executive Order; and (4) the State would not suffer the harms to its proprietary interests in the absence of implementation of the Executive Order. Accordingly, at this early stage of the litigation, the State has satisfied the requirements of Article III standing.
Dr. Elshikh Has Standing
Dr. Elshikh is an American citizen of Egyptian descent and has been a resident of Hawai`i for over a decade. Declaration of Ismail Elshikh ¶ 1, Mot. for TRO, Ex. A, ECF No. 66-1. He is the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawai`i and a leader within Hawaii's Islamic community. Elshikh Decl. ¶ 2. Dr. Elshikh's wife is of Syrian descent, and their young children are American citizens. Dr. Elshikh and his family are Muslim. Elshikh Decl. ¶¶ 1, 3. His mother-in-law, also Muslim, is a Syrian national without a visa, who last visited the family in Hawaii in 2005. Elshikh Decl. ¶¶ 4-5.
In September 2015, Dr. Elshikh's wife filed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of her mother. On January 31, 2017, Dr. Elshikh called the National Visa Center and learned that his mother-in-law's visa application had been put on hold and would not proceed to the next stage of the process because of the implementation of Executive Order No. 13,769. Elshikh Decl. ¶ 4. Thereafter, on March 2, 2017, during the pendency of the nationwide injunction imposed by Washington, Dr. Elshikh received an email from the National Visa Center advising that his mother-in-law's visa application had progressed to the next stage and that her interview would be scheduled at an embassy overseas. Although no date was given, the communication stated that most interviews occur within three months. Elshikh Decl. ¶ 4. Dr. Elshikh fears that although she has made progress toward obtaining a visa, his mother-in-law will be unable to enter the country if the new Executive Order is implemented. Elshikh Decl. ¶ 4. According to Plaintiffs, despite her pending visa application, Dr. Elshikh's mother-in-law would be barred in the short-term from entering the United States under the terms of Section 2(c) of the Executive Order, unless she is granted a waiver, because she is not a current visa holder.
Dr. Elshikh has standing to assert his claims, including an Establishment Clause violation. Courts observe that the injury-in-fact prerequisite can be "particularly elusive" in Establishment Clause cases because plaintiffs do not typically allege an invasion of a physical or economic interest. Despite that, a plaintiff may nonetheless show an injury that is sufficiently concrete, particularized, and actual to confer standing. See Catholic League, 624 F.3d at 1048-49; Vasquez v. Los Angeles Cty., 487 F.3d 1246, 1250 (9th Cir. 2007) ("The concept of a `concrete' injury is particularly elusive in the Establishment Clause context."). "The standing question, in plain English, is whether adherents to a religion have standing to challenge an official condemnation by their government of their religious views[.] Their `personal stake' assures the `concrete adverseness' required." Catholic League, 624 F.3d at 1048-49. In Establishment Clause cases—
Id. at 1048-49 (quoting Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring)). Dr. Elshikh attests that he and his family suffer just such injuries here. He declares that the effects of the Executive Order are "devastating to me, my wife and children." Elshikh Decl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 66-1.
Like his children, Dr. Elshikh is "deeply saddened by the message that [both Executive Orders] convey—that a broad travel-ban is `needed' to prevent people from certain Muslim countries from entering the United States." Elshikh Decl. ¶ 1 ("Because of my allegiance to America, and my deep belief in the American ideals of democracy and equality, I am deeply saddened by the passage of the Executive Order barring nationals from now-six Muslim majority countries from entering the United States."); id. ¶ 3 (["My children] are deeply affected by the knowledge that the United States—their own country—would discriminate against individuals who are of the same ethnicity as them, including members of their own family, and who hold the same religious beliefs. They do not fully understand why this is happening, but they feel hurt, confused, and sad.").
"Muslims in the Hawai`i Islamic community feel that the new Executive Order targets Muslim citizens because of their religious views and national origin. Dr. Elshikh believes that, as a result of the new Executive Order, he and members of the Mosque will not be able to associate as freely with those of other faiths." SAC ¶ 90. These injuries are sufficiently personal, concrete, particularized, and actual to confer standing in the Establishment Clause context.
The final two aspects of Article III standing—causation and redressability—are also satisfied. Dr. Elshikh's injuries are traceable to the new Executive Order and, if Plaintiffs prevail, a decision enjoining portions of the Executive Order would redress that injury. See Catholic League, 624 F.3d at 1053. At this preliminary stage of the litigation, Dr. Elshikh has accordingly carried his burden to establish standing under Article III.
"While standing is primarily concerned with who is a proper party to litigate a particular matter, ripeness addresses when litigation may occur." Lee v. Oregon, 107 F.3d 1382, 1387 (9th Cir. 1997). "[I]n many cases, ripeness coincides squarely with standing's injury in fact prong." Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Comm'n, 220 F.3d 1134, 1138 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). In fact, the ripeness inquiry is often "characterized as standing on a timeline." Id. "A claim is not ripe for adjudication if it rests upon `contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all.'" Texas v. United States, 523 U.S. 296, 300 (1998) (quoting Thomas v. Union Carbide Agric. Prods. Co., 473 U.S. 568, 580-81 (1985)).
The Government argues that "the only concrete injury Elshikh alleges is that the Order `will prevent [his] mother-in-law'—a Syrian national who lacks a visa—from visiting Elshikh and his family in Hawaii." These claims are not ripe, according to the Government, because there is a visa waiver process that Elshikh's mother-in-law has yet to even initiate. Govt. Mem. in Opp'n to Mot. for TRO (citing SAC ¶ 85), ECF No. 145.
The Government's premise is not true. Dr. Elshikh alleges direct, concrete injuries to both himself and his immediate family that are independent of his mother-in-law's visa status. See, e.g., SAC ¶¶ 88-90; Elshikh Decl. ¶¶ 1, 3.
The Court turns to the merits of Plaintiffs' Motion for TRO.
Legal Standard: Preliminary Injunctive Relief
The underlying purpose of a TRO is to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm before a preliminary injunction hearing is held. Granny Goose Foods, 415 U.S. 423, 439 (1974); see also Reno Air Racing Ass'n v. McCord, 452 F.3d 1126, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2006).
The standard for issuing a temporary restraining order is substantially identical to the standard for issuing a preliminary injunction. See Stuhlbarg Int'l Sales Co. v. John D. Brush & Co., 240 F.3d 832, 839 n.7 (9th Cir. 2001). A "plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008) (citation omitted).
"[I]f a plaintiff can only show that there are `serious questions going to the merits'—a lesser showing than likelihood of success on the merits—then a preliminary injunction may still issue if the `balance of hardships tips sharply in the plaintiff's favor,' and the other two Winter factors are satisfied." Shell Offshore, Inc. v. Greenpeace, Inc., 709 F.3d 1281, 1291 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011) (emphasis by Shell Offshore)).
For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs have met this burden here.
Analysis of TRO Factors: Likelihood of Success on the Merits
The Court turns to whether Plaintiffs sufficiently establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their Count I claim that the Executive Order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Because a reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral purpose, the Court finds that Plaintiffs, and Dr. Elshikh in particular, are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.
A. Establishment Clause
"The clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another." Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 (1982). To determine whether the Executive Order runs afoul of that command, the Court is guided by the three-part test for Establishment Clause claims set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13 (1971). According to Lemon, government action (1) must have a primary secular purpose, (2) may not have the principal effect of advancing or inhibiting religion, and (3) may not foster excessive entanglement with religion. Id. "Failure to satisfy any one of the three prongs of the Lemon test is sufficient to invalidate the challenged law or practice." Newdow v. Rio Linda Union Sch. Dist., 597 F.3d 1007, 1076-77 (9th Cir. 2010). Because the Executive Order at issue here cannot survive the secular purpose prong, the Court does not reach the balance of the criteria. See id. (noting that it is unnecessary to reach the second or third Lemon criteria if the challenged law or practice fails the first test).
The Executive Order's Primary Purpose
It is undisputed that the Executive Order does not facially discriminate for or against any particular religion, or for or against religion versus non-religion. There is no express reference, for instance, to any religion nor does the Executive Order—unlike its predecessor—contain any term or phrase that can be reasonably characterized as having a religious origin or connotation.
Indeed, the Government defends the Executive Order principally because of its religiously neutral text —"[i]t applies to six countries that Congress and the prior Administration determined posed special risks of terrorism. [The Executive Order] applies to all individuals in those countries, regardless of their religion." Gov't. Mem. in Opp'n 40. The Government does not stop there. By its reading, the Executive Order could not have been religiously motivated because "the six countries represent only a small fraction of the world's 50 Muslim-majority nations, and are home to less than 9% of the global Muslim population . . . [T]he suspension covers every national of those countries, including millions of non-Muslim individuals[.]" Gov't. Mem. in Opp'n 42.
The illogic of the Government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. The Court declines to relegate its Establishment Clause analysis to a purely mathematical exercise. See Aziz, 2017 WL 580855, at *9 (rejecting the argument that "the Court cannot infer an anti-Muslim animus because [Executive Order No. 13,769] does not affect all, or even most, Muslims," because "the Supreme Court has never reduced its Establishment Clause jurisprudence to a mathematical exercise. It is a discriminatory purpose that matters, no matter how inefficient the execution" (citation omitted)). Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries. It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.
The Government compounds these shortcomings by suggesting that the Executive Order's neutral text is what this Court must rely on to evaluate purpose. Govt. Mem. in Opp'n at 42-43 ("[C]ourts may not `look behind the exercise of [Executive] discretion' taken `on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason.'"). Only a few weeks ago, the Ninth Circuit commanded otherwise: "It is well established that evidence of purpose beyond the face of the challenged law may be considered in evaluating Establishment and Equal Protection Clause claims." Washington, 847 F.3d at 1167-68 (citing Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 534 (1993) ("Official action that targets religious conduct for distinctive treatment cannot be shielded by mere compliance with the requirement of facial neutrality."); Larson, 456 U.S. at 254-55 (holding that a facially neutral statute violated the Establishment Clause in light of legislative history demonstrating an intent to apply regulations only to minority religions); and Village of Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266-68 (1977) (explaining that circumstantial evidence of intent, including the historical background of the decision and statements by decisionmakers, may be considered in evaluating whether a governmental action was motivated by a discriminatory purpose)). The Supreme Court has been even more emphatic: courts may not "turn a blind eye to the context in which [a] policy arose." McCreary Cty. v. Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 866 (2005) (citation and quotation signals omitted).
A review of the historical background here makes plain why the Government wishes to focus on the Executive Order's text, rather than its context. The record before this Court is unique. It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the Executive Order and its related predecessor. For example—
SAC ¶ 41 (citing Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees: Exclusive Interview With Donald Trump (CNN television broadcast Mar. 9, 2016, 8:00 PM ET), transcript available at https://goo.gl/y7s2kQ)). In that same interview, Mr. Trump stated: "But there's a tremendous hatred. And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States. . . [a]nd of people that are not Muslim."
Plaintiffs allege that "[l]ater, as the presumptive Republican nominee, Mr. Trump began using facially neutral language, at times, to describe the Muslim ban." SAC ¶ 42. For example, they point to a July 24, 2016 interview:
SAC ¶ 44; Ex. 7 (Meet the Press (NBC television broadcast July 24, 2016), transcript available at https://goo.gl/jHc6aU). And during an October 9, 2016 televised presidential debate, Mr. Trump was asked:
SAC ¶ 45 (citing The American Presidency Project, Presidential Debates: Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (Oct. 9, 2016), available at https://goo.gl/iIzf0A)).
The Government appropriately cautions that, in determining purpose, courts should not look into the "veiled psyche" and "secret motives" of government decisionmakers and may not undertake a "judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter's heart of hearts." Govt. Opp'n at 40 (citing McCreary, 545 U.S. at 862). The Government need not fear. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry. For instance, there is nothing "veiled" about this press release: "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." SAC ¶ 38, Ex. 6 (Press Release, Donald J. Trump for President, Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration (Dec. 7, 2015), available at https://goo.gl/D3OdJJ)). Nor is there anything "secret" about the Executive's motive specific to the issuance of the Executive Order:
SAC ¶ 59, Ex. 8. On February 21, 2017, commenting on the then-upcoming revision to the Executive Order, the President's Senior Adviser, Stephen Miller, stated, "Fundamentally, [despite "technical" revisions meant to address the Ninth Circuit's concerns in Washington,] you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome [as the first]." SAC ¶ 74.
These plainly-worded statements,
To emphasize these points, Plaintiffs assert that the stated national security reasons for the Executive Order are pretextual. Two examples of such pretext include the security rationales set forth in Section 1(h):
TRO Mem. 13. Other indicia of pretext asserted by Plaintiffs include the delayed timing of the Executive Order, which detracts from the national security urgency claimed by the Administration, and the Executive Order's focus on nationality, which could have the paradoxical effect of "bar[ring] entry by a Syrian national who has lived in Switzerland for decades, but not a Swiss national who has immigrated to Syria during its civil war," revealing a "gross mismatch between the [Executive] Order's ostensible purpose and its implementation and effects." Pls.' Reply 20 (citation omitted).
While these additional assertions certainly call the motivations behind the Executive Order into greater question,
Nor does the Court's preliminary determination foreclose future Executive action. As the Supreme Court noted in McCreary, in preliminarily enjoining the third iteration of a Ten Commandments display, "we do not decide that the [government's] past actions forever taint any effort on their part to deal with the subject matter." McCreary, 545 U.S. at 873-74; see also Felix v. City of Bloomfield, 841 F.3d 848, 863 (10th Cir. 2016) ("In other words, it is possible that a government may begin with an impermissible purpose, or create an unconstitutional effect, but later take affirmative actions to neutralize the endorsement message so that "adherence to a religion [is not] relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community." (quoting Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 687 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring))). Here, it is not the case that the Administration's past conduct must forever taint any effort by it to address the security concerns of the nation. Based upon the current record available, however, the Court cannot find the actions taken during the interval between revoked Executive Order No. 13,769 and the new Executive Order to be "genuine changes in constitutionally significant conditions." McCreary, 545 U.S. at 874.
Last, the Court emphasizes that its preliminary assessment rests on the peculiar circumstances and specific historical record present here. Cf. Aziz, 2017 WL 580855, at *9 ("The Court's conclusion rests on the highly particular `sequence of events' leading to this specific [Executive Order No. 13,769] and the dearth of evidence indicating a national security purpose. The evidence in this record focuses on the president's statements about a `Muslim ban' and the link Giuliani established between those statements and the [Executive Order].") (citing McCreary, 545 U.S. at 862).
Analysis of TRO Factors: Irreparable Harm
Dr. Elshikh has made a preliminary showing of direct, concrete injuries to the exercise of his Establishment Clause rights. See, e.g., SAC ¶¶ 88-90; Elshikh Decl. ¶¶ 1, 3. These alleged injuries have already occurred and likely will continue to occur upon implementation of the Executive Order.
Indeed, irreparable harm may be presumed with the finding of a violation of the First Amendment. See Klein v. City of San Clemente, 584 F.3d 1196, 1208 (9th Cir. 2009) ("The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury") (quoting Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976)); see also Washington, 847 F.3d at 1169 (citing Melendres v. Arpaio, 695 F.3d 990, 1002 (9th Cir. 2012) ("It is well established that the deprivation of constitutional rights `unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.'")) (additional citations omitted). Because Dr. Elshikh is likely to succeed on the merits of his Establishment Clause claim, the Court finds that the second factor of the Winter test is satisfied—that Dr. Elshikh is likely to suffer irreparable injury in the absence of a TRO.
Analysis of TRO Factors: The Balance of Equities and Public Interest Weigh in Favor of Granting Emergency Relief
The final step in determining whether to grant the Plaintiffs' Motion for TRO is to assess the balance of equities and examine the general public interests that will be affected. Here, the substantial controversy surrounding this Executive Order, like its predecessor, illustrates that important public interests are implicated by each party's positions. See Washington, 847 F.3d at 1169. For example, the Government insists that the Executive Order is intended "to protect the Nation from terrorist activities by foreign nationals admitted to the United States[.]" Exec. Order, preamble. National security is unquestionably important to the public at large. Plaintiffs and the public, on the other hand, have a vested interest in the "free flow of travel, in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination." Washington, 847 F.3d at 1169-70.
As discussed above, Plaintiffs have shown a strong likelihood of succeeding on their claim that the Executive Order violates First Amendment rights under the Constitution. "[I]t is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party's constitutional rights." Melendres, 695 F.3d at 1002 (emphasis added) (citing Elrod, 427 U.S. at 373); Gordon v. Holder, 721 F.3d 638, 653 (D.C. Cir. 2013) ("[E]nforcement of an unconstitutional law is always contrary to the public interest." (citing Lamprecht v. FCC, 958 F.2d 382, 390 (D.C. Cir. 1992); G & V Lounge v. Mich. Liquor Control Comm'n, 23 F.3d 1071, 1079 (6th Cir. 1994).
When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms discussed above, and the questionable evidence supporting the Government's national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs' TRO. See Aziz, 2017 WL 580855, at * 10. Nationwide relief is appropriate in light of the likelihood of success on the Establishment Clause claim.
Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs' Motion for TRO is hereby GRANTED.
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
It is hereby ADJUDGED, ORDERED, and DECREED that:
Defendants and all their respective officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and persons in active concert or participation with them, are hereby enjoined from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of the Executive Order across the Nation. Enforcement of these provisions in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas is prohibited, pending further orders from this Court.
No security bond is required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(c).
The Court declines to stay this ruling or hold it in abeyance should an emergency appeal of this order be filed.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b)(2), the Court intends to set an expedited hearing to determine whether this Temporary Restraining Order should be extended. The parties shall submit a stipulated briefing and hearing schedule for the Court's approval forthwith.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
TRO Mem. 48, ECF No. 65-1.
Felix, 841 F.3d 863-64.