Senators Playing Loose with Constitutional Rights

Written by Julia Kerr, Common Cause intern on June 21, 2016

Their zeal to protect Americans from domestic terrorists, or perhaps to score political points for seeming to provide protection, is leading some members of Congress to toss aside constitutional rights.

Case in point: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, fresh from the campaign trail after his unsuccessful bid for president, along with Senators Charles Grassley, R-IA, Roy Blunt, R-MO, and Mike Lee, R-UT, is pushing an “Expatriate Terrorist Act” that would direct federal officials to revoke the citizenship of Americans suspected of joining or aiding a jihadist group. The officials could act without a hearing or court order, though targeted citizens who’ve left the U.S. could petition for a hearing to regain their US passports.

“We need to pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act, so that known ISIS terrorists cannot use U.S. passports to return to America and wage jihad. We need a president who is serious—who will identify the enemy by name and do everything necessary to defeat it,” Cruz said in a statement released within hours of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Proponents argue that the bill targets people who have pledged allegiance to a terrorist organization. But critics including Washington lawyer and blogger Gabriel Malor contend that it would punish Americans who are wrongfully profiled without substantial evidence. In a National Review article published last year,  Malor argued that the bill would “mobilize an army of bureaucrats at Justice, State, and Homeland Security to start sniping away at Americans’ rights of citizenship and travel.”

Terrorism “solutions” that some politicians are proposing are dangerous and emotionally-charged. It’s up to citizens to insist on a more thoughtful approach, one that respects the Constitution and its protections for individual rights.

Office: Common Cause National

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