In Tennessee, a bill was drafted for consideration that denounced hate and discrimination in general and "white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups" in particular.

It went further to request those groups be designated as terrorist organizations.

... we urge law enforcement to recognize these white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations ...

The Patriot Act defined, rather broadly, the definition of terrorism and outlined additional powers law enforcement had to investigate potential terrorists and terrorist groups.

The question is, if the Tennessee bill had been signed into law how would neo-Nazi groups have been affected from a Constitutional rights perspective? As examples, would the group be unable to 'advertise' their rallies? Would individuals in the group lose their freedom of speech, 4th amendment right to privacy, or any other rights?

  • Quotes can be used to indicate a direct quotation from source, but quotes around individual words are also often used to flag the fact that the writer disagrees with the way the term is used. E.g. "These 'freedom fighters' have killed many civilians". Quotation marks used in this way are known as "scare quotes". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scare_quotes Oct 23, 2018 at 9:09

2 Answers 2


Very likely no, they would not lose their rights. At best, the police would be given a bit more latitude in opening up investigative cases against members, but they would still have to respect their constitutional rights. Legally, urging does not make a requirement to do anything differently, beyond possible talking points (i.e. The Police Chief is encouraged to refer to busting a KKK group committing an actual crime as "stopping a terrorist action".). More likely as the international nature of the more predominate terrorism attacks on the U.S. would demoralize these organizations, which tend to be a bit more patriotic.

  • Does the US have to respect the constitutional rights of al-Qaeda members? If not, why does the same rule not apply to neo-Nazi groups?
    – ubadub
    Oct 24, 2018 at 15:37
  • @ubadub: It depends on a number of factors. The typical Neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. are made of U.S. Citizens or (more unlikely) Legal Residents. In addition, any member of al-Qaeda arrested in legal U.S. Territory is considered a U.S. Person for purposes of rights (see the 20th Highjacker, who had a full trial) or for other reasons is subject to the Jurisdiction of the United States (I've just returned from vacation but I heard that phrase was in the news recently).
    – hszmv
    Oct 31, 2018 at 15:09

If a group is labeled a terrorist group, it's almost certain that any business engaging in a contractual relationship with the group would be liable for any damages resulting from the group's activity. That means that banking or renting of property to that group can expose a bank or property owner to a legal liability.

  • 1
    Interesting. Can you cite any examples or legal basis for this statement? Oct 23, 2018 at 9:13
  • @PaulJohnson it's the general principle that due diligence must be performed to avoid any foreseeable harm. Failing to perform due diligence, which results in harm, creates a liability. If an organization is designated as "terrorist", this designation makes the harm foreseeable. I guess a purported terrorist organization can challenge this designation, as a defamation, if it doesn't advocate for violence. I am not sure if they would be considered foreseeably violent while such a challenge is pending.
    – grovkin
    Oct 23, 2018 at 12:25
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    This sounds accurate to me. But would this not apply currently? If a group like the KKK, well known for engaging in violent attacks on minorities, even if it's not classified as a terrorist group, rented a place, couldn't the owner reasonably foresee that they could engage in actions that might cause harm?
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 23, 2018 at 22:09
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    @Obie2.0 I don't know that KKK (proper) rents any space or banks under its organization's actual name. I can't imagine any bank would want the "honor" of being known as the "KKK's bank of choice." KKK chapters are likely renting from like-minded owners (who are willing to take the risk of liability) or they are hosted on the land which they own. It was reported that even a former clansman David Duke was not able to go to school for a masters degree in the US and had to seek education abroad. So well-established organizations are pretty weary of any perceived affiliation with KKK.
    – grovkin
    Oct 24, 2018 at 14:10

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