February 21, 2014

Judge Rules that Looking For Islamist Extremists in Mosques Doesn't Violate Constitution

It always makes me lulz when people are *shocked* to learn that the police might be looking for bad guys in those places where bad guys would logically hang out. It's as if they live in an alternate universe where principles they learned in college outweigh the obvious. In this case, isn't it obvious that people with terrorist sympathies might just hang out in mosques where people with known terrorist sympathies congregate.

For Muslims who find it *shocking* and *appalling* that the police might want to have some mosques under surveillance I answer:

A) Not all mosques were under surveillance so claiming that you feel violated as a Muslim because some mosque you don't go to was being watched isn't a valid point. This is the reverse corollary to guilt by association: you feel violated by association.

B) What harm was done other than your feelings being hurt? The normal legal remedy for a harm done by the police is the exclusionary rule. If evidence was gathered illegally, then that evidence would be quashed in court. In this case, there's not even the allegation that evidence was gathered illegally only that the plaintiffs felt all icky and stuff because a cop might have attended mosque.

C) Where should the police look for radical Muslims, among the Amish in Pennsylvania? Despite what you learned in college, discrimination is only bad if and when there is no rational basis for that discrimination. In this case, choosing to watch Muslim communities to see if there were any bad guys is actually quite rational given that the vast majority of terrorists are Muslim.

The fact is that not only are the problems of Islamist terrorist tendencies to be found in the greater Muslim community, but also the solution to it which is Muslims of good conscience ratting the bad apples out. A great corollary example to this would be the fact that from the 1920s to the 1980s a lot of organized crime was to be found in the Italian-American community. And one of the greatest prosecutors of organized crime? Italian-American Rudy Giuliani.


In a written decision filed in United States District Court in Newark, Judge William J. Martini dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought in 2012 by eight Muslims who said the New York Police Department’s surveillance programs were unconstitutional because they focused on religion, national origin and race. The suit accused the department of spying on ordinary people at several mosques, restaurants and grade schools in New Jersey since 2002.

The plaintiffs, including the former principal of a grade school for Muslim girls, “have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion,” Judge Martini wrote. “The more likely explanation for the surveillance was to locate budding terrorist conspiracies.”

The judge added, “The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself.”

“The motive for the program,” he added, “was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but to find Muslim terrorists hiding among the ordinary law-abiding Muslims.”

Oh, and let me also point out that police generally do not need a warrant to do things which any citizen is able to do. "Surveillance" is just a fancy word we use which means to watch. Civil libertarians are often upset when they hear that the police have been "surveilling". You might as well accuse Vinnie of "surveilling" gay bars or Howie of "surveilling" Kate Upton (I'll grant that in the latter case "stalking" would be a more appropriate word). If I have the legal right to walk into a mosque and listen to a sermon then police have the same right. In fact, both of us could be doing "surveillance" yet neither of us needs a warrant to justify our actions as long as the meeting is open to the public.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:05 PM | Comments |