So why did the House leadership keep the King amendment out? Bay Area Democrats -- with the exception of Reps. Tom Lantos and Jerry McNerney -- were among the 121 Democrats who voted against the measure; 105 House Dems, and 199 Repubs, voted for it. When the Senate passed a companion measure by a 57-to-39 vote, it lacked the 60 votes to make it to the floor. But the deal set the stage for the Senate to approve the measure on Thursday.
Brendan Daly, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that leaders feared individuals reporting other passengers based on racial stereotypes, but they worked out a compromise. But it is not clear how the King amendment changed.
It may well be that Democratic leaders realized that they should heed the likes of New York Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, who voted for the Senate bill, rather than side with the likes of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which supported the imams' suit to help the imams, a spokesman told me in April, "clear their names."
Sorry, but suing "John Does" won't clear the imams' names. Instead, the suit bolsters the suspicion that the imams were being deliberately provocative in the hope that airline staff would act -- so that the imams could proclaim themselves victims of discrimination.
Let me be clear. I do not believe that airlines should discriminate against Muslims, the vast majority of whom are good, law-abiding citizens.
Nor do I believe it is wise for security to profile Muslim men. That makes it too easy for potential terrorists to succeed by breaking with the profile. But it also is unwise to pass laws that deter citizens from reporting suspicious behavior by individuals who belong to groups more likely to support terrorism.
After Reid's attempted shoe bombing, Indiana humanities and law professor Fedwa Malti-Douglas wrote in The New York Times that although she had been the target of ethnic profiling, "I believe this scrutiny is a defensible tactic for picking out potential problem passengers." After all, screening procedures "also protect me from terrorism."