Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto Saturday night joined in the chorus of American voices suggesting that British-born CNN host Piers Morgan could legally be deported from this country for his televised attacks on the Second Amendment, and pointed out the legal precedent that leaves Morgan vulnerable to deportation.
Morgan began the dispute when he complained on Twitter Saturday about a petition on the White House’s “We the People” Web page that asks the government to deport him.
“British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights,” the drafters of the petition wrote in their introductory statement.
The petition has already netted more than 13,000 signatures one day after its launch, putting it well on pace to reach its goal of 25,000. That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration has promised to respond to online petitions submitted on the White House website, provided they reach that number in 30 days.
“Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?,” Morgan tweeted.
“Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.
Taranto linked to transcripts from a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to allow a foreign journalist into the United States did not violate the First Amendment. The case resulted from Nixon administration attorney general Richard Kleindienst’s refusal to grant a temporary nonimmigrant visa to Marxist Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel.
Taranto’s tweet was praised by Twitter users who would like to send Morgan back to his native land.
“I knew there was a reason I’ve liked you for years,” tweeter Lee Dodson said to Taranto. “Excellent shot across this silly Brit’s bow. Well done.”
Morgan has been using his CNN talk show to blast gun-rights advocates in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut on Dec. 14.
“There are nearly 12,000 murders a year from guns in this country. When are you guys [Second Amendment supporters] going to focus on that and stop telling me the answer is more guns. It is not the answer! How many more kids have to die before you guys say, ‘We want less guns, not more,’” Morgan said on the air December 14. (RELATED BLOG POST: Does Piers Morgan’s bodyguard carry a gun?)
Morgan is the host of CNN’s low-rated talk show “Piers Morgan Tonight,” occupying the slot once held by American citizen Larry King. He was previously the editor of multiple British tabloids, including the News of the World, which ended its run in 2011 amid allegations of phone hacking.
MSNBC host Martin Bashir, another left-leaning British journalist who hosts an American TV show, did not immediately weigh in on Taranto’s tweet.