The Patriot Post® · Terrorist Watch List Violates the Constitution?

By Political Editors ·

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ruled Wednesday that the federal government’s terrorist watch list, also known as the Terrorist Screening Database, violates the Constitution. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filled by several Muslims who are U.S. citizens and whose names were on the list. Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued, “Innocent people should be beyond the reach of the watch list system. We think that’s what the Constitution requires.” Judge Trenga appeared to agree, writing in his decision, “There is no evidence, or contention, that any of these plaintiffs satisfy the definition of a ‘known terrorist.’” He further observed that behaviors resulting in individuals being classified as “suspected terrorist” were overly broad.

The Washington Time reports, “Ultimately, Trenga ruled that the travel difficulties faced by plaintiffs — who say they were handcuffed at border crossings and frequently subjected to invasive secondary searches at airports — are significant, and that they have a right to due process when their constitutional rights are infringed.”

The questions surrounding Americans’ right to due process are the key issue here. From its inception, the terrorist watch list, while a completely understandable response to the 9/11 terror attacks, always presented a dangerous slippery slope. As the years have gone by, the number of individuals added to the watch list, which is maintained by the FBI, has grown to more than 1.16 million. While the vast majority of individuals listed are not U.S. citizens, there are approximately 4,600 Americans and legal residents on it, and none of them has been charged with or been convicted of a crime. It’s very difficult to get off the list, too. While it may not be popular, Judge Trenga’s decision to error on the side of due process is the constitutional one.

Finally, to Democrats demanding that the no-fly list, a subset of the Terrorist Screening Database, be used to determine whether a person may own a firearm: Be advised that such an encroachment would be no more constitutional than the one just corrected by Judge Trenga.