However, there are some groups who feel that this protection is too broad. The (unfortunately-named) anti-civil-liberties group American Civil Liberties Union is suggesting that the confrontation clause should not apply, for example, when the accuser has a “sincerely held [religious] belief” that precludes him or her from confronting the accused:
The matter stems from a 2006 small-claims lawsuit in Hamtramck, Michigan, when a district judge told Ginnah Muhammad that she couldn’t testify unless she removed her veil.
Muhammad wore a niqab, – a scarf and veil to cover her face and head except for her eyes – to 31st district judge Paul Paruk’s courtroom on 11 October. She was contesting a $2,750 (£1800) repair bill from a car rental company after thieves broke into a vehicle she was using.
Paruk said he needed to see Muhammad’s face to gauge her truthfulness. Muhammad did not remove the veil and lost the case.
But why should the ACLU stop with the Sixth Amendment? Here are some suggestions for their future fights against civil liberties:
- The US Congress shall make no law infringing the freedom of speech, except when the speech conflicts with a “sincerely held belief.”
- The US Congress shall make no law infringing the freedom of the press, except when the speech conflicts with a “sincerely held belief.”
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, unless the others conflict with a “sincerely held belief.”
- Slavery shall not exist in the United States, except for those people with “sincerely held beliefs” mandating it.
- The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, except from those with “sincerely held beliefs” opposed to taxation.
Actually, the last doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Get cracking, ACLU!