After speaking out against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, members of the tech community are now seeking to take the administration to court.
On Jan. 27, Trump issued an executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which suspended refugee admission to the U.S. and banned citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from traveling to the United for the next three months.
Last Monday, Washington was the first state to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop the enforcement of the order. Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Hawaii soon followed in launching similar legal actions.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart, a federal judge in Washington State, ruled to temporarily halt the order nationally. On Sunday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Justice Department’s request to reinstate the order.
Ninety-seven tech companies filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in Washington supporting the state’s attorney general Bob Ferguson in the suit. The list of businesses attached to the brief is a who’s who of Silicon Valley.
The list includes Airbnb, Apple, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Microsoft, Netflix, Reddit, Snap, Uber — whose CEO Travis Kalanick recently left the President’s Strategic & Policy Forum — and Twitter, on whose platform the president used to denigrate Judge Robart’s credentials.
The brief, made available in full by The Washington Post, argues that the order not only “inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation,” but that “through its arbitrary and discretionary restrictions on entry, the Order makes it far more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain the world’s best employees. By imposing sweeping restrictions on travel, the Order prevents countless employees, clients, and business partners from entering or leaving the country. The Order’s discriminatory bans based on nationality and religion present America as a country inhospitable to outsiders, deterring the best and brightest from joining its workforce. And because of all this, the Order will inevitably lead to the flight of talent, business, and investment from the United States and overseas, sapping the country of the driver of so much of its success.”
Though Judge Robart ruled in favor of the state, in Boston, U.S. district judge Nathaniel Gorton ruled not to extend extend a temporary restraining order against the ban. The contradictory rulings appear to signal that the legal fight will continue.