January 2009 Issue Volume 37 Issue 1

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Update on ASA and ACLU
Academic Freedom Case

A federal court rules that the Bush administration must justify denying a visa to South African scholar Adam Habib.

In early December, a federal court ruled that it has the power to review whether the Bush administration was justified in revoking the visa of Adam Habib, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation, and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. The denial prevented him from attending a series or meetings and speaking engagements, including the 2007 ASA Annual Meeting in New York City (see Vantage Point column, November 2007 Footnotes). The ruling follows a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Massachusetts, on behalf of the ASA and other organizations that invited Habib to speak in the United States, challenging the U.S. State Department’s refusal to grant Habib a visa based on unsubstantiated national security claims. The judge in the case ruled that the First Amendment requires that the government provide a valid reason for excluding the scholar from attending the invited speaking engagements. In late 2007, the State Department refused Habib a visa after months of inaction, claiming that he is barred because he has "engaged in terrorist activities," but the government failed to explain the basis for its accusation or provide any evidence. For more information on this case, see www.aclu.org/exclusion. logo_small

 

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