Academic Freedom and National Security

ACLU, AAUP, & Pen American Center v. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Central Intelligence Agency ,)

On November 10, 2005, the AAUP joined the American Civil Liberties Union and PEN American Center as plaintiffs seeking the prompt release of records under a Freedom of Information Act request from the U.S. Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency.  

AAUP, AAR, PEN Center, & Ramadan v. Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, 463 F. Supp. 2d 400 (S.D.N.Y. 2006 )

The AAUP, American Academy of Religion, and PEN American Center filed an action against the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State, challenging the exclusion Professor Tariq Ramadan from entering the United States to accept speaking invitations extended by the AAUP and other scholarly organizations.

ACLU v. NSA, 493 F.3d 644 (6th Cir. 2007 )

Following 9/11, the  National Security Agency (NSA) undisputedly eavesdropped without warrants international telephone and e-mail communications in which at least one of the parties was “reasonably” suspected of al Qaeda ties.  Prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who frequently communicate by phone and e-mail with people in the Middle East filed suit, argued that the NSA wiretapping program violates their First Amendment rights by impairing their ability to obtain information from sources abroad, conduct scholarship, and engage in advocacy. 

John Doe, Inc. v. Mukasey, 549 F.3d 861 (2d Cir. 2008 )

The plaintiffs, an internet service provider and others challenged the constitutionality of National Security Letters and their accompanying “gag orders.”  

ASA, AAUP, AAADC, BCPR, and Habib v. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State, 588 F. Supp. 2d 166 (D. Mass. 2008)

The AAUP joined several other organizations in filing suit against the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary of State, challenging the American consul in South Africa's denial of Professor Habib’s application for a non-immigrant visa on the ground he “engaged in terrorism” and thus was ineligible for a visa.

Trump v. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project, 137 S. Ct. 2080, 198 L. Ed. 2d 643 (June 26, 2017) (No. 16-1436)(granting cert and granting stay in part), 138 S. Ct. 353, 199 L. Ed. 2d 203, (Oct. 10, 2017)(Vacating judgement as moot)

The AAUP joined with the American Council on Education and other higher education groups in an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court opposing the Trump administration’s Executive Order instituting a travel ban. We argue that people from the six countries identified in the ban should not be barred or deterred from entering the United States and contributing to our colleges and universities. The brief emphasized the significant value of foreign academics and the international exchange of scholarly work, and explained that “the EO jeopardizes the vital contributions made by foreign . . . . scholars, and faculty by telling the world in the starkest terms that American colleges and universities are no longer receptive to them.” On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld a stay of the ban for travelers and refugees who have a “credible claim” of a genuine relationship with an individual or institution in the United States. In October 2017, after the travel ban expired by its own terms, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court cases as moot.

Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S. Ct. 2392 (2018)

On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States by a 5-4 vote rejected a challenge to President Trump’s September 2017 Presidential Proclamation 9645 (Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats)—referred to as the “travel ban”—restricting immigration to the United States by citizens of eight countries, most of which are predominately Muslim. In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, the majority relied on the national security justifications for the ruling and held that the travel ban is fully consistent with Congress’s Immigration and Nationality Act as well as the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in dissent, lamented that the court had “blindly” endorsed “a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward Muslims.”

Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology v. Department of Homeland Security, No. 1:20-cv-11283 (D.C. MA, July 13, 2020)(amicus brief filed)

Following a legal challenge, supported by an amicus brief in which the AAUP joined, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded a directive that, during the COVID-19 crisis, foreign students engaged entirely in online study would not be allowed in the United States. In March 2020, DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), issued guidance that, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, F-1 and M-1 visa holders were allowed to participate in online education while remaining in the United States. On July 6, 2020, DHS issued a new directive that rescinded this COVID-19 exemption for international students, requiring all students on F-1 visas whose university curricula are entirely online to depart the country and barring any such students currently outside the United States from entering or reentering the United States. Shortly after DHS issued the directive, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institution of Technology filed a complaint in the US District Court in Massachusetts for declaratory and injunctive relief, to prevent the directive from taking effect so that thousands of international students can continue to participate in educational opportunities in the United States, even if their course of study is online.

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