Saturday, March 17, 2007

Air travel is a civil right

Spot's post Imams sue Mr. and Mrs. Bigot! got the comment juices flowing! Dave commented that the imams were way outta line and deserved to get hauled off the airplane. Rogier said that the whole incident was symptomatic of the racial and religious paranoia that exists in the US., amplifying what Spot suggested in his little dialogue involving the Bigots. But Dave said one thing, a notion that we must disabuse ourselves of right away, boys and girls.

I sympathize with Muslims that feel they are being profiled, but air travel is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Well, actually Dave, it is. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, enacted by the Congress in, you guessed it – 1964, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in a number of areas, including public accommodations and transportation. The Act was, incidentally, one of the last pieces of civil rights legislation that had any major Republican support.

All legislation enacted by the Congress has to be under the authority of a constitutional provision. Otherwise the law is, gasp, unconstitutional! It is one of the curious and interesting sidelights of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that it was enacted pursuant to the Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce, not the Fourteenth Amendment.

It will be interesting indeed to watch the case of the flying imams and Mr. and Mrs. Bigot as it develops. It will be particularly interesting to see what people say in their depositions, under oath, and subject to what Wigmore called "the great engine of truth": cross examination. Spot is willing to abide the event. Are you Dave?

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