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Reopen Our Borders to Free Speech

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March 26, 2009

On Tuesday, we were in court presenting oral arguments in the case of Professor Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss national and professor at the University of Oxford, dubbed “the leading Islamic thinker among Europe’s second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants” by Time magazine. In 2004, Professor Ramadan was set to teach at the University of Notre Dame until the government barred him from re-entering the U.S. by invoking a law that allows the government to deny entry to those who “endorse or espouse terrorism.”

Although the government has failed to produce any evidence showing that Professor Ramadan endorsed terrorism or that he’s inadmissible on any other basis, in court on Tuesday the government lawyer argued that the consular officer’s decision to exclude Professor Ramadan was not subject to judicial review at all.

The ACLU’s National Security Project director Jameel Jaffer and attorney Melissa Goodman (who are counsel in the case, American Academy of Religion v. Napolitano) provide some commentary after Tuesday’s oral arguments in a new ACLU video.

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube’s privacy statement on their website and Google’s privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU’s privacy statement, click here.

Unfortunately, Professor Ramadan’s case is part of a disturbing practice that the government has resurrected over the last eight years – that of denying visas to foreign nationals whose political views the government disfavors. The ACLU and other organizations are also challenging the exclusion of Professor Adam Habib, one of South Africa’s leading scholars and political commentators. Ideological exclusion violates Americans’ First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the U.S.

Last week, a broad coalition of free speech, academic, immigration and human rights groups sent a letter to Attorney General Holder, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano urging them to end the practice of ideological exclusion.

The ACLU has an online petition calling on Attorney General Holder and Secretaries Clinton and Napolitano to stop censoring ideas at America’s borders. Click here to send your message!

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