The Corner

So Now Federal Judges Have Put Themselves In Charge of Visa Decisions

The New York Times reports that the Second Circuit federal appeals court (Judge Sotomayor’s court) has ruled that the Bush administration improperly barred Tariq Ramadan from entering the U.S. 

Ramadan (described by the Times as a “Swiss academic”) is the grandson of Muslim Brotherbood founder Hassan al-Banna. He was excluded by the Bush administration on the ground that he’d contributed funds to a terrorist organization. Ramadan is a non-American who has no right to come to the United States, yet the three-judge panel ruled that the government was somehow required to “confront Ramadan with the allegation against him and afford him the subsequent opportunity to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization.”

As I recounted a few months back in summarizing a case in which the Fourth Circuit federal appeals court reversed a lower court order that the Uighur detainees be admitted into the United States,

the power to exclude aliens from our territory has repeatedly been recognized by the Supreme Court as one “to be exercised exclusively by the political branches of government,” because it is “inherent in sovereignty” and necessary both for “maintaining normal international relations” and “defending the country against foreign encroachments.” Neither of those is the responsibility of judges. Thus, it “is not within the province of any court” to second-guess a political branch’s exclusion of an alien “unless expressly authorized by law.”

I haven’t yet read the Second Circuit’s 52-page opinion, but this sounds very bad, both because of the involvement of Ramadan (see Caroline Fourest’s book, Brother Tariq (Encounter 2008), and useful essays by Christopher Hitchens and Ibn Warraq) and the specter of federal judges taking charge of this crucial aspect of national security.

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