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The Protect John Doe Act

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 27, 2007 07:49 PM

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House GOP strikes back at the litigious imams, reports the Washington Times in a web-only exclusive. Audrey Hudson writes:

House Republicans today surprised Democrats with a procedural vote to protect public-transportation passengers from being sued if they report suspicious activity — the first step by lawmakers to protect “John Doe” airline travelers already targeted in a lawsuit by Muslim imams that charges profiling.

The introduction of a motion to recommit the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007 back to committee with instructions to add the protective language was introduced by Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Mr. King says all Americans, airline passengers included, must be protected from lawsuits if they report suspicious behavior that may foreshadow a terrorist attack.

…The language is based on a bill introduced last week by Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican, to protect “John Does,” or passengers targeted in the suit filed by six Muslim imams earlier this month in Minneapolis.

Hearing from a tipster that the the vote just happened and the motion to add the protective language passed 304 to 121.

More at Jawa Report, Powerline.

Just received from Rep. Bill Shuster’s office:

House Votes to Protect Security Conscious Americans from Frivolous Lawsuits

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Bill Shuster released the following statement upon passage of a Republican motion to make important changes to H.R. 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007 passed the House.

The motion contained language to protect Americans from intimidation and frivolous lawsuits by giving them legal immunity as a result of reporting suspicious terrorism-related activity overwhelmingly passed the House 304 to 121:

“This is a big victory for all Americans,” Shuster said. “No American should ever be sued because they tried to stop a terrorist act. No American should be forced to second guess a decision to alert authorities that could save the lives of others. Unfortunately, the recent lawsuit filed by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) seeks to do just that.”

Last November, six imams were removed from US Airways Flight 300 for what passengers described as threatening behavior. While on board, passengers reported that these men, who were traveling together, dispersed to seats throughout the plane in a formation reminiscent of the 9/11 hijackers and moved throughout the cabin to confer with one another. Additionally, they asked the flight crew for seatbelt extenders, which they then rolled up and kept under their seats for no apparent reason.

The imams’ complaint, which is supported by CAIR, specifically mentions certain “John Does” as defendants to the suit and describes them as “passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged “suspicious” behavior of Plaintiffs’…”

“The enemy we face in the War on Terror does not wear a uniform or insignia. Instead, they are trained to act like you and me, to blend in to society and operate in the shadows,” Shuster said. “Although the Department of Homeland Security has done great work to protect us, they cannot be everywhere. And where there are gaps in security, the American people should step up.”

“Americans shouldn’t be punished for doing their civic duty,” Shuster said. CAIR’s lawsuit only seeks to chill public involvement in the War on Terror where we need it most. The House’s passage of this important measure will reverse this trend and protect those who want to protect us all.”

A summary of the Republican Motion to Recommit follows:

The Republican motion to recommit H.R. 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007, provides that any person who makes a voluntary disclosure regarding suspicious activity that constitutes a possible threat to transportation security to appropriate security and law enforcement authorities shall be immune from civil liability for such disclosure.

The amendment protects any such disclosure relating to threats to transportation systems, passenger safety or security, or possible acts of terrorism.

The amendment also shields transportation systems and employees that take reasonable actions to mitigate perceived threats.

The amendment is retroactive to activities that took place on or after November 20, 2006 – the date of the Minneapolis incident involving six Islamic leaders who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight after they were observed acting suspiciously.

Finally, the motion authorizes courts to award attorneys fees to defendants with immunity.

Here’s the roll. Note that every last one of the “no” votes was cast by a Democrat.

Related: Hulk Hogan of legal world volunteers to go up against imams

Related: USA Today editorializes against the imams’ suit

Previous:

Taking on the litigious flying imams
Flying imam alert
Flying imams, leaping CAIR
PJM exclusive: The flying imams police reportFlight Club: Rules of the flying imams
Standing up to the flying imams

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