For Immediate Release
Constitution Project Releases 'Statement Opposing the Terrorist Expatriation Act'
Legislation introduced by Senators Lieberman and Brown raises serious constitutional concerns
WASHINGTON - Today, the Constitution Project's bipartisan Liberty
and Security Committee released a Statement Opposing the Terrorist
Expatriation Act, in response to legislation introduced by Senators
Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) and Representatives
Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), shortly after the failed
bombing attempt in New York's Times Square. The Statement
explains the serious constitutional problems raised by this bill and
ultimately urges Congress to reject this proposal. In particular, the
29 members of the Committee joining the Statement point out
that citizenship is a fundamental constitutional right that cannot be
taken away unless it was unlawfully obtained or voluntarily renounced.
Statement Opposing the Terrorist Expatriation Act states, in
"The Terrorist Expatriation Act raises several serious
constitutional concerns. Moreover, there is no need for such a law.
Whether they are American citizens or not, terrorism suspects can and
should be prosecuted in court to the full extent of the law. Congress
should reject such expatriation proposals as being both unnecessary and
dangerous; unnecessary because existing laws already provide more than
adequate penalties for U.S. citizens who engage in acts of terrorism;
dangerous because such proposals would forever dilute one of our most
fundamental constitutional rights."
legislation is not only unneeded for our counter-terrorism efforts, but
it seeks to strip Americans of a most fundamental right--that of being a
United States citizen," said William H. Taft, IV, legal advisor for the
U.S. State Department during the George W. Bush administration and
Deputy Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, and member
of the Project's Liberty and Security Committee. "Sadly, although
cloaked in patriotism, this legislative proposal is actually ugly
demagoguery that should be rejected by Congress. Our law already
provides harsh punishment for U.S. citizens who commit terrorist acts."
Project's Liberty and Security Committee is made up of policy experts
who represent the full political spectrum, including former members of
Congress, former government, intelligence and military officials,
academics and advocates. These members came together to express their
concerns that Congress cannot and should not seek to strip protected
constitutional rights. In addition, members point out that by
incorporating existing laws on material support for terrorism, the bill
also incorporates the constitutional flaws plaguing those laws. In
particular, the material support statutes raise serious due process and
First Amendment concerns.
"The Supreme Court has long recognized
that the constitutional right of citizenship cannot be taken away
unless a person obtained it illegally or voluntarily renounced American
citizenship," said Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior
Counsel. "The Terrorist Expatriation Act is a distressing example of
legislation based on fear and anger rather than smart counter-terrorism
strategies. We call on Congress to reject this bill."
Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee has put forth
recommendations on a wide range of national security related issues,
including the use of terrorist watch lists and immigration detention.
Closely related to today's release, last fall the Committee issued a
report on Reforming the Material Support Laws: Constitutional
Concerns Presented by Prohibitions on Material Support to "Terrorist
Organizations." That report explained how existing laws prohibiting
material support sweep so broadly as to chill protected First Amendment
rights of free speech and association.
To view the Statement
Opposing the Terrorist Expatriation Act in full, go to: http://www.
view Reforming Material Support Laws: Constitutional Concerns
Presented by Prohibitions on Material Support to "Terrorist
Organizations," go to: http://www.
To view other reports and statements of the Liberty and
Security Committee, go to: http://www.
The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.