Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Court Reviews Visa Request of Foreign Academic


From Inside Higher Ed:

In a major win for academic groups fighting the Bush administration’s denials of visas to some foreign scholars who have criticized U.S. policies, a federal judge ruled Monday that the government must produce more evidence for the exclusion of Adam Habib.

The ruling rejects the Bush administration’s contention that decisions by consular officers cannot be reviewed by courts — a stance that has already made it difficult for academic and civil liberties groups to get visas for some scholars to attend academic conferences or to accept positions in the United States.

Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. ruled that the First Amendment requires the government to provide a valid and substantiated reason for barring Habib from the United States, when there are groups here that want to meet with him. The decision said that “the government has not given a reason for the denial,” and that simply stating that he is banned because he has “engaged in terrorist activities” — without specifying them in a credible way — isn’t good enough.

… O’Toole said that the potentially valid claim in the case came not from Habib, but from the academic groups that wanted to have him as a speaker, and who argued that their First Amendment rights were violated by his exclusion.


Look, I don’t like it when the government won’t explain its actions, and I doubt it’s that big a deal for the courts to review consulate decisions. But the rationale here — that denying Person A a visa infringes the First Amendment rights of Group B — is absurd.


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