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CAA News Today

Ideological Exclusion Lawsuit Update

posted by Christopher Howard — Sep 15, 2006

As reported in the May CAA News, the American Academy of Religion has joined the American Association of University Professors and PEN American Center in a lawsuit to prevent US government officials from barring foreign scholars from the United States solely because of views the scholars express. The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, follows the continued exclusion of Professor Tariq Ramadan, a leading scholar of Islam, and contends that a provision of the Patriot Act has fostered a policy known as “ideological exclusion.” The lawsuit asks that the provision be declared unconstitutional.

After several months of asking the US District Court, Southern District of New York, for a summary judgment on the Ramadan portion of the suit, the plantiffs found some success: a federal judge ruled that the government must render a decision on Ramadan’s visa application within ninety days. On June 23, 2006, the judge said that the government has already had “more than adequate time for adjudication of Ramadan’s pending visa application” and noted that though the government can exclude an alien from the country for many reasons, it may not invoke national security as a protective shroud to justify the exclusion of aliens on the basis of their political beliefs.

CAA will continue to report on this issue as it develops; see