Liberty requires the right to unrestricted foreign travel, so our government generally should have no right to impede that travel. It does have the right to place some reasonable conditions upon that right – but only in those rare occasions in which that travel is for the purpose of causing material harm to our national safety or interests. So today if we want to travel to North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela or virtually anywhere else, as free people we should have the right to do so without any restrictions, much less sanctions.
One of the rare situations in which the government could place restrictions would be for travel to places like Syria, Iraq or Libya to join terrorist forces as they fight against humanity. If those people are not citizens, they should have that right, but with the express condition that they could never return to the United States. Of course it is a violation of international law to prohibit citizens from returning to their own country. So our government would be justified to pass and enforce a law that would impose a prison sentence for a conviction upon our citizens who traveled or attempted to travel to those areas of the world. But that sanction could be avoided by those travelers if they voluntarily renounced their citizenship before they departed. Thus they could be treated as a non-citizen. This overall approach would accomplish two important purposes. First, it would uphold the critically important freedom to travel. And, second, if someone has terrorist tendencies, it would be better for them to be in those other places instead of here. So once again, Liberty works both to our philosophical as well as our practical advantage.
By Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Honorary board member