Gold Star father Khizr Khan wrote a personal appeal to the Supreme Court on Friday to strike down President Donald Trump's travel ban, using his family's story to argue the ban is unconstitutional and "desecrates" his son's sacrifice.
Known for his impassioned speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Khan is a lawyer and the father of Capt. Humayun Khan, an Army captain who was killed when he moved to stop a car containing suicide bombers headed toward his base in Iraq, for which he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.
Originally from Pakistan and a Muslim, Khan filed the legal brief on Friday because, in his view, Trump's travel ban "not only desecrates Humayun Khan's service and sacrifice as a Muslim- American officer in the United States Army, but also violates Khizr Khan's own constitutional rights," his attorney wrote in the brief.
The brief describes the Khan family's history and the service of Humayun Khan, mentioning as well Khan's speech at the DNC where he held up a pocket Constitution and emotionally asked Trump if he'd read it.
The brief also notes Trump's comments on the campaign trail that he wanted to institute a "Muslim ban," a key component of critics' arguments that the administration's travel ban is a thinly veiled attempt to target Muslims.
"The taint of discrimination has not been washed away," the brief argues, saying the latest travel ban and its predecessors all flow from that original idea.
"The message is that Muslims are unwelcome outsiders," it continues. "And that message has been received loud and clear -- not only by Muslims like Mr. Khan, but by those who have been denigrating and attacking Muslims with increasing frequency and vehemence since President Trump called for, and then began trying to implement, his unconstitutional Muslim Ban."
"The message is that Muslims are outsiders, regardless of the depth of their devotion to the Constitution, and despite paying the ultimate price to defend it. That message is painfully clear to Mr. Khan," the brief states.
Khan's attorney, Dan Jackson, said the Gold Star father felt compelled to weigh in because of the impact of the travel ban on his son's legacy, and added Khan has a "fierce devotion" to the Constitution.
"I don't know anyone who respects our Constitution more, or has suffered greater loss for its defense, than Mr. Khan and his family," Jackson told CNN. "I hope the Supreme Court heeds his plea that the court should consider the history and message of the Muslim Ban and Proclamation from the perspective of those, like Mr. Khan, on the receiving end of that discriminatory message."
The justices are set to hear arguments in April concerning whether the travel ban violates immigration law as well as the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Last year, the justices allowed the entire travel ban issued in September to go into effect pending appeal.
Those arguments supplanted an earlier scheduled case, which the justices removed after the latest version of the travel ban was issued in September.
The ban places varying levels of restrictions on foreign nationals from eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen.