Murphy to AG Porrino: Time to Get Off Sidelines and Join Fight to Protect American Values

Urges Porrino to Take Action Following Federal Court Ruling Halting Implementation of Trump’s ‘Callous,’ ‘Discriminatory’ & ‘Haphazard’ Muslim Ban

Newark — Phil Murphy, Democratic candidate for governor, today called on state Attorney General Christopher Porrino to end his silence regarding Donald Trump’s recent executive order essentially banning some Muslims from entering the country in the wake of a federal restraining order placed on the ban.

Murphy sent a letter to Porrino calling on him to live up to his oath of office and “the solemn responsibility of protecting the rights and privileges of all residents of our state.”

“This Executive Order, callous and discriminatory in its nature and haphazard in its implementation, unfairly and unconstitutionally targets many residents of our state. Your office has chosen to remain silent, even as the Executive Order disrupts thousands of lives across New Jersey,” Murphy wrote.

Since the January 27 order was signed, Porrino has punted on the issue, saying, “[t]he legality and constitutionality of the recent federal executive action will be evaluated and determined in the federal courts.”

Sixteen state attorneys general have since banded together in cooperative action to protect their residents and challenge the order’s legality. This weekend, federal Judge James Robart agreed with the arguments put forth by Washington’s Attorney General — a case joined by the Attorney General of Minnesota — and placed a temporary restraining order on Trump’s order.

“The courts have spoken. Judge Robart’s ruling only confirms what I have experienced and heard firsthand in conversations across our state: this Executive Order damages New Jersey, injures our residents, and undermines our values,” Murphy wrote to Porrino. “This ban does not reflect the best of America nor does it reflect the history and diversity of New Jersey. Your silence does not demonstrate a respect for the legal process; it betrays indifference to, or worse, acceptance of these outcomes.”

The full text of Murphy’s letter follows:

Attorney General Christopher Porrino
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
25 Market Street, Box 080
Trenton, NJ 08625-0080

Dear Attorney General Porrino:

I write as a concerned citizen of the state of New Jersey regarding your response to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order dated January 27, 2017, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (“Executive Order”).  This Executive Order, callous and discriminatory in its nature and haphazard in its implementation, unfairly and unconstitutionally targets many residents of our state.  Your office has chosen to remain silent, even as the Executive Order disrupts thousands of lives across New Jersey.  I urge you to reconsider your silence.

Sixteen state Attorneys General have publicly challenged the Executive Order, calling it “unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful.”  Several of these states subsequently challenged the Executive Order in court.  In contrast, your office refused to join these efforts, stating that “[t]he legality and constitutionality of the recent federal executive action will be evaluated and determined in the federal courts.”

The courts have spoken.  On February 3, 2017, Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington granted an emergency motion filed by the state of Washington and joined by the state of Minnesota seeking a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the Executive Order.  State of Washington v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. C17-0141JLR (W.D. Wash. Feb. 3, 2017) (attached to this Letter as Exhibit A).

In so deciding, Judge Robart determined that the Executive Order causes residents “immediate and irreparable” harm by virtue of the limitations it places on their “employment, education, business, family relations, and freedom to travel.”  Id. at 4.  Moreover, he found that States themselves will suffer “significant and ongoing” harms due to the “damage that implementation of the Executive Order has inflicted upon the operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as injury to the States’ operations, tax bases, and public funds.”  Id. at 4-5.

Judge Robart’s ruling only confirms what I have experienced and heard firsthand in conversations across our state: this Executive Order damages New Jersey, injures our residents, and undermines our values.  Reports fill our newspapers of students, professors, doctors, and businesspeople – many of whom have lived here for years or decades – being turned away from the very country they call home, disrupting lives and hindering our economy.  Families fleeing war-ravaged lands have been sent, without warning, back into harm’s way.  Children seeking life-saving medical treatments available at our world-class medical centers have been denied their own chance to live a full, happy, and prosperous life.

This ban does not reflect the best of America nor does it reflect the history and diversity of New Jersey.  Your silence does not demonstrate a respect for the legal process; it betrays indifference to, or worse, acceptance of these outcomes.  The people of New Jersey are neither indifferent nor accepting of this Executive Order.  Thousands have stood up, arm-in-arm in protest, and many of our state’s brightest legal minds have donated their time and energy to give a legal voice to the voiceless.  As the chief law enforcement officer for a state that is home to both one of the most diverse populations in the nation as well as one of its most active airports, you must heed their call.

As Attorney General, you are sworn to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of New Jersey.  You hold the solemn responsibility of protecting the rights and privileges of all residents of our state.  I call on you to do so.

Respectfully,
Philip D. Murphy