Mrs. Shipley's Ghost

The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists
Jeffrey Kahn


Today, when a single person can turn an airplane into a guided missile, no one objects to rigorous security before flying. But can the state simply declare some people too dangerous to travel, ever and anywhere? Does the Constitution protect a fundamental right to travel? Should the mode of travel (car, plane, or boat) or itinerary (domestic or international) make a constitutional difference? This book explores the legal and policy questions raised by government travel restrictions, from passports and rubber stamps to computerized terrorist watchlists.

In tracing the history and scope of U.S. travel regulations, Jeffrey Kahn begins with the fascinating story of Mrs. Ruth Shipley, a federal employee who almost single-handedly controlled access to passports during the Cold War. Kahn questions how far national security policies should go and whether the government should be able to declare some individuals simply too dangerous to travel. An expert on constitutional law, Kahn argues that U.S. citizens’ freedom to leave the country and return is a fundamental right, protected by the Constitution.

“With authoritative detail, this elegantly written and constructed book takes on an overlooked travesty of contemporary counterterrorism—easy use of the terrorist watchlist to stop Americans from coming home. To reconstruct our right to travel, Kahn brilliantly polishes an undervalued gem of the Constitution—the Citizenship Clause. A necessary read.”
—Susan Ginsburg, Senior Counsel and Team Leader, 9/11 Commission

“Despite an avalanche of writing about post-9/11 security policies, far too little attention has been paid to the increasingly important world of watchlists and their impact on the ability to travel. Jeff Kahn has filled this gap with a definitive account that deftly blends historical, legal, and policy analysis. And he has done it with real narrative flair. Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost will be required—and thoroughly enjoyable—reading for anyone interested in the intersection of data, security, and liberties.”
 —Robert M. Chesney, University of Texas School of Law

Jacket photo: Ruth B. Shipley at her desk. Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Jeffrey Kahn is Associate Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

Praise / Awards

  • "This book is creative, interesting, and takes on a slice of the war on terror that nobody else has systematically considered."
    —Dale Carpenter, University of Minnesota Law School
  • "Despite her once modest fame, Mrs. Shipley has long been lost to history. But readers can newly make her acquaintance in [Kahn's] book, in which 'Red Scare' meets 'war on terror' and neither appears to pass constitutional muster."
    Chronicle of Higher Education

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Jeff Kahn in The Dallas Morning News Link | 7/25/2016

Product Details

  • 360 pages.
  • 10 figures, 2 halftones.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02883-2

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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