Newt Gingrich on Thursday called for the United States to test every person with a Muslim background to see if they believe in Sharia law, and deport those who do. It looked like a Hail Mary for the Trump VP spot as news about Mike Pence having taken the job spread about. It represented ignorance of what Sharia actually is. And it plays right into the hands of terrorists who want to divide Western society. From a legal perspective, it violates federal law and the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Simply put, the idea is nonsensical from a policy, legal, and Constitutional perspective.
The first glaring flaw in Gingrich’s proposal is that approximately 77% of Muslims living in the United States are citizens. On that basis alone, they have a full suite of constitutional rights meaning they cannot be expelled under our immigration laws, no matter what their “crime,” no more than he can as a U.S. citizen.
Second, the proposal violates the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
- The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion. Gingrich’s religious test would persecute people on the basis of their beliefs, something the First Amendment utterly prohibits.
- His test also violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection under law because Muslims would be treated differently than non-Muslims under our immigration laws.
- Putting his test to work would probably require violations of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. First, because it would require surveillance without probable cause, and second, because it would require racial or religious profiling.
Gingrich knows better. Unlike the GOP front-runner who he faithfully advises, Gingrich is familiar with our immigration laws and the Constitution. What ISIS seeks to do is literally to divide and conquer us. Our greatest challenge in times of chaos is to hold true to our American Ideals. And our leadership should be exemplifying them, not threatening to discard them.