American Sociological Association et al v Clinton
What's at Stake
(formerly American Sociological Association et al. v Chertoff)
Professor Adam Habib
Currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg, Adam Habib is a world-renowned researcher, scholar, and political commentator. He is an expert on issues of democracy, governance, race, and South African politics, public policy, and social movements. Professor Habib is also a vocal critic of various aspects of U.S. foreign policy, including the war in Iraq. Habib was a frequent traveler to the U.S. and earned a degree from the City University of New York. But when he arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in October 2006, Customs and Border officials revoked Professor Habib’s visa without explanation. As a result, Habib was unable to attend scheduled meetings with U.S.-based scholars and representatives from U.S. and international agencies, universities, and foundations. As part of a larger pattern of “ideological exclusion,” Professor Habib was one of dozens of foreign scholars, writers, artists, and activists barred from entering the U.S. during the Bush administration not on the basis of their actions but on the basis of their ideas, political views, and associations.
The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in 2007 on behalf of organizations that had invited Professor Habib to speak in the U.S. The lawsuit charged that the government’s exclusion of Professor Habib amounted to censorship at the border because it prevented U.S. citizens and residents from hearing speech that is protected by the First Amendment. In January 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an order effectively ending his exclusion. Professor Habib has since obtained a 10-year visa and is able to travel to the U.S.
October 2006: Customs and Border officials revoked Professor Habib’s visa without explanation when he arrived at JFK Airport, causing him to miss scheduled meetings with U.S.-based scholars and representatives from U.S. and international agencies, universities, and foundations.
May 2007: Professor Habib filed a visa application in order to attend speaking engagements in the U.S. including the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in August 2007. Professor Habib was informed on the eve of his scheduled departure for New York that his application would not be processed in time.
September 2007: The ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of organizations that invited Professor Habib to speak in the U.S. The lawsuit charged that the government’s practice of “ideological exclusion” impairs the First Amendment rights of Americans by preventing face-to-face dialogue and debate.
October 2007: The State Department denied Professor Habib’s visa application after months of inaction, claiming that he was barred because he had “engaged in terrorist activities,” without providing any explanation about the basis for its accusation.
November 2007: In response to the unjustified denial of a visa to Professor Habib, the ACLU amends lawsuit, asking the court to prevent the government from excluding Professor Habib unless it comes forward with evidence to substantiate its accusations.
December 2008: The court rules that it has the power to review whether the government had a valid reason for denying a visa to Professor Habib. Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. ruled that the First Amendment requires the government to provide a valid, substantiated reason for excluding a scholar invited to speak to U.S. audiences.
January 2010: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signs orders that effectively end the exclusion of Professor Habib and also Professor Tariq Ramadan of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.
March 2010: Professor Habib makes his first U.S. appearance since being barred from entering the country in 2006 to meet with with academics, members of Congress and the public.