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ADC Press Statement on the Next Phase of Reno v. ADC

Washington, D.C., March 22 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is filing a petition for rehearing before the Supreme Court in the case of Reno v. ADC. The petition rests on the ground that the Court, in its Feb. 24 ruling on the case, decided the First Amendment selective prosecution aspect of the case after declaring that they would not consider the issue. As a result, the Court silenced millions of immigrants throughout this country without even allowing them to present argument on whether they should have the right not to be discriminatorily targeted for their political views. The Supreme Court needs to be properly briefed before making such a momentous and far-reaching decision, and therefore ought to grant the motion for rehearing of Reno v. ADC.
ADC is deeply concerned about the negative impact the Supreme Court’s ruling in ADC v. Reno is likely to have on the civil liberties and political freedom of all non-citizens in the United States. ADC chair Naila Asali said that “By authorizing the government to selectively target immigrants for deportation based on their otherwise lawful political activities, affiliations and beliefs, the Court’s ruling seriously undermines the ability of non-citizens to be politically active or express their political opinions. It is a repudiation of the principles of free speech, freedom of conscience and political liberty on which this country, a nation of immigrants, was founded.”
The ruling is not just a matter of concern to Arab-Americans, rather it is a blow to the rights of all immigrant communities, any of which could find itself targeted if it is ever in disagreement with U.S. government policies. A diversity of interested groups has joined together to oppose the ruling, which illustrates the broad impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. They include: the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arab American Institute, Amnesty USA, the Institute for Policy Studies, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the American Muslim Council, the National Council of La Raza, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among others. The Court’s ruling bodes ill for the civil liberties of everyone in the United States, since it undermines constitutional guarantees of political freedom and erodes a culture of respect for such freedom. It places the wishes and whims of the government above the right of the individual to hold and express opinions. As many prominent journalists and academics have noted, when these rights have been compromised for non-citizens, how secure can the rights of citizens truly be? ADC pledges that, with the support of other concerned organizations, it will continue to challenge the constitutionality of this ruling, using all available means to ensure the civil liberties of everyone in the United States. In the particular case of the LA 8, ADC will continue, as it has for the past 12 years, to defend the right of these individuals to hold and express their political opinions without being punished with deportation.