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Gingrich Assaults the First Amendment, Calls to Test and Deport Muslims

Former Speaker Suggests Deporting Sharia Believers

After every tragedy, it has become a tradition for the most extreme elements of political discussion to start sharing their views. The aftermath of the tragic attack on Nice, France is no different. Following the attack that claimed no fewer than 84 lives, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich jumped right in the discussion.

Per The Washington Post, Gingrich suggested, “We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported.” While calling sharia “incompatible with western civilization,” Gingrich did throw in that he’d be willing to allow “modern Muslims” to stay in the country.

While this certainly plays well with Donald Trump’s campaign theme, it becomes potentially problematic when faced with the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the First Amendment, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” As Newt’s proposal fails to even make a distinction between U.S. citizens and non-citizens, it becomes an even harder to justify.

While the Supreme Court has issued various rulings that would invalidate such a proposal, those may not be Newt’s biggest concerns. In 2011 he openly called for abolishing courts he didn’t like. He also suggested ignoring the rulings of “elitist judges” in the Supreme Court. As a potential influence in a Trump administration, these are the kinds of tactics that would likely be pursued to enact such ideas.

Gingrich’s comments, however, did not stand unopposed for very long. The Council on American-Islamic Relations immediately jumped into the fray, stating that through Newt’s remarks, “he plays into the hands of terror recruiters and betrays the American values he purports to uphold.” With Islamic terror groups having used clips of Trump in past recruiting videos, the claim is not without merit.

It’s also rather foolish to believe that radical Islamists who do wish to cause harm within the United States would admit to such radical views in any official test.

Following another Trump line, Gingrich also suggested that mosques in the United States needed to be monitored. This proposal would also likely face large First Amendment obstacles, and theoretically could also be in violation of the Constitution’s promise of “equal protection under the laws.”

Singling out people based on their religion would run contrary to the American tradition of individualism. Trying to throw together some kind of Minority Report-system of governance directly contradicts American values. When Democrats try to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Americans because of the actions of a deranged few, they are rightly ridiculed. The same standard should be applied to protect all law-abiding Muslims, irrespective of the actions of the extreme.

Assaulting someone’s liberty because of what you think they might do some day is a dangerously Orwellian notion. Giving government the power to exile someone because of an innocuous trait is a power which can’t be trusted to remain within its initial scope. Muslims could be the target today, but with such an authority, there’s nothing to prevent the state from persecuting other dissidents and “dangerous” people.

Before new powers are given to the government, said powers should be considered as if in the hands of your worst enemy. If someone who holds values completely contrary to your own could deport people based on their beliefs, consider whether you’d feel safe. This is the potential struggle we will face in the future. It’s up to us to make sure liberty is applied to all, not just to the favorites of whoever is in power.