A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the so-called “terror watch list,” a list of persons both citizen and non-citizen that now encompasses some 1.9 million names, is unconstitutional. The case involved 23 Muslims who happened to be American citizens. They had been placed on the watch list and their presence their greatly curtailed their ability to travel or to even open a banking account.
“There is no evidence, or contention, that any of these plaintiffs satisfy the definition of a ‘known terrorist,’ ” wrote Trenga, adding that even harmless conduct could result in someone being labeled as a “suspected terrorist” on the watch list.
“An individual’s placement into the [watch list] does not require any evidence that the person engaged in criminal activity, committed a crime, or will commit a crime in the future,” the judge wrote, “and individuals who have been acquitted of a terrorism-related crime may still be listed.”
Now, in fairness to the government, the very fact that CAIR filed the lawsuit indicates that one or more of the 23 might very well be a terrorist sympathizer as CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in two US terrorism trials, it has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and has been declared a terrorist organization by at least one nation. That unpleasantness aside, the idea that a US citizen can be, without and real due process, placed on this list and not notified and have limited ways of appealing their inclusion on the list is something that is much more akin to what the left wants to do with Trump supporters than anything common to our form of government.
If this ruling stands, however, it should spell doom for the bizarre concept of “red flag laws” that sprang, Athena-like, from the butt of some gun-grabber. Where the terrorism watch list is based on actual activities that have been validated by law enforcement and intelligence agencies and merely result in inconvenience at border crossings and in a few other instances, the red flag laws permit warnings by relatives, family members, or even random strangers based on a layman’s opinion that a US citizen might, conceivably, possibly, at some point in the future do something bad with a firearm. The result of being placed on a red flag list will result in your property being confiscated, your constitutional right to own a firearm being abridged, and there is no guarantee you will ever again be considered “normal” enough to ever be removed from the list.
My gut feeling is that as we move away from the recent spate of mass shootings that the demand that we “do something” will die down. But if it doesn’t then there is now a basis for a legal challenge to the thoroughly un-American concept of “red flag laws.”