Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP Candidates Disavow Trump's Call for Muslim Database

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP Candidates Disavow Trump's Call for Muslim Database

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Republican presidential candidates swiftly condemned on Friday Donald Trump's call for requiring Muslims in the United States to register in a national database, drawing a sharp distinction with the GOP front-runner.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Trump's proposal "abhorrent." Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Trump was trying to "divide people." And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has largely avoided criticizing Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, said that although he was a fan of the billionaire businessman, "I'm not a fan of government registries of American citizens.

"The First Amendment protects religious liberty, and I've spent the past several decades defending the religious liberty of every American," Cruz said in Sioux City, Iowa.

The rebuke followed Trump's call Thursday for a mandatory database to track Muslims in the U.S. In a video posted on MSNBC.com, Trump was asked whether Muslims would be required to register. He replied, "They have to be."

He said Muslims would be signed up at "different places" and said the program would be "all about management."

Civil liberties experts said Trump's idea was unconstitutional, while the libertarian Cato Institute's Ilya Shapiro said the idea violated privacy and liberty rights.

Marci Hamilton, a Yeshiva University legal expert on religious liberty, said requiring Muslims to register appeared to be a clear violation of the Constitution's protection of religious freedom.

"What the First Amendment does and what it should do is drive the government to use neutral criteria," Hamilton said. "You can use neutral criteria to identify terrorists. What it can't do is engage in one-religion bashing. That won't fly in any court."

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League in New York called Trump's proposal "deeply troubling and reminiscent of darker days in American history when others were singled out for scapegoating. …

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