Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) questioned a Department of Homeland Security official about the idea that American citizens on the terrorist watchlist should be denied gun rights on Friday.
"What process is afforded a U.S. citizen, not someone who's overstayed a visa, not someone who crossed a border without permission, but an American citizen—what process is currently afforded an American citizen before they go on that list?" Gowdy asked DHS secretary Kelli Ann Burriesci at a House Oversight Committee hearing.
"I'm sorry, um, there's not a process afforded the citizen prior to getting on the list," Burriesci said. "There is a process should someone feel they're unduly placed on the list."
"Yes, there is," Gowdy said. "When I say ‘process’ I'm actually using half of the term ‘due process,’ which is a phrase we find in the Constitution, that you cannot deprive people of certain things without due process. So I understand [Center for American Progress fellow Ken Gude]'s idea, which is to wait until your right has been taken from you and then you can petition the government to get it back. I understand that that's his idea."
"My question is, can you name another constitutional right we have that is chilled until you find out it's chilled, and then you have to petition the government to get it back? Is that true with the First Amendment?"
Burriesci then began to explain the criteria to put someone on the watchlist, but Gowdy interrupted her, saying she was not answering his question. He then asked the question again. "My question is what process is afforded a United States citizen before that person's constitutional right is infringed. [Gude] is fine with doing it with the Second Amendment. My question is how about the first?"
"My question is what process is afforded a United States citizen before that person's constitutional right is infringed? [Gude] is fine with doing it with the Second Amendment. My question is, how about the First?"
Gowdy then asked what other constitutional rights DHS might be comfortable infringing upon without due process. How about we
"How about we not let them set up a website?" he asked. "Or a Google account? How about we not let them join a church until they can petition government to get off the list? How about not get a lawyer? How about the Sixth Amendment? How about you can't get a lawyer until you petition the government to get off the list? Or, my favorite, how about the Eighth Amendment? We're going to subject you to cruel and unusual punishment until you petition the government to get off the list."
"Is there another constitutional right that we treat the same way, for American citizens, that we do the Second Amendment?" Gowdy asked. "Can you think of one?"
After a pause, he repeated the question. "Can you think of one?" he asked.
"I don't have an answer for you, sir," Burriesci said as Gowdy's allotted time to ask questions ran out.