Donald Trump calls for closing our borders to all Muslims, and both left and right lose their minds.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That’s the actual text of the First Amendment, apart from court interpretations. Most of those, especially on the right, who are upset at Trump, seem to suggest that we cannot legally prohibit American citizens who are practicing Muslims from re-entering this country. Whether I agree with Trump’s rhetorical point or not, there is absolutely nothing prohibiting Congress from passing a law that says Muslims who leave the borders of the United States will not be allowed to re-enter. How would we have handled American citizens who visited Japan after Pearl Harbor or who went to Germany once war had been declared? (We should have declared war on Islam in 2001.)
I’m sure some federal judge somewhere will find case law or pull something out of his or her nether regions that finds such a statute unconstitutional. Yet that does not seem to me to follow from a reading of the Amendment. No state religion is being established. The free exercise of one’s religion within the borders of the United States would not be prohibited – unlike bans on prayer in public schools or Christmas decorations on courthouse lawns or displays of the Ten Commandments. No rights to speech, publication, peaceable assembly or petition are abridged.
More than likely an actual law to this effect would have provisions that required a thorough investigation of contacts and activities of those Islamic American citizens who had gone abroad for purposes of business or pleasure and wished to return to the United States. Given that somewhere on the order of 25% of Muslims are in favor of imposing Sharia law on the United States by any means necessary, such a restriction is quite sensible.
In any case, had a law of this nature been in place the past few years, the San Bernardino shooting would not have happened. Unlike additional gun laws or forbidding people on the No-Fly list from (legally) buying firearms, this is an approach that would have saved lives.
Speaking of the No-Fly list, how is that all that much different from what Trump proposes, aside from the fact that what Trump suggests would target the Terrorist Religion of Choice ©.