ACLU Represents 15 People Government Put on Secret List and Banned From Flying Without Explanation
July 26, 2012 – A three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today unanimously ruled that the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging the government’s secretive No Fly List should go forward.
The national ACLU, along with its affiliates in Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and New Mexico, filed the lawsuit in Portland in June 2010, on behalf of 15 U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including four military veterans, who are on the No Fly List and banned from flying to or from the U.S. or over American airspace, causing great personal hardship. None of the ACLU’s clients have ever been told why they are on the No Fly List or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it.
The lawsuit was filed against the FBI, which creates and controls the No Fly List. The district court in Portland dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that it should have been filed against the Transportation Security Administration, which administers the redress process for travelers denied boarding. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed that decision.
“Today’s decision is a victory for our clients and all Americans,” said Nusrat Choudhury, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, who argued the appeal. “More than two years ago, our clients were placed on a secret government blacklist that denied their right to travel without an explanation or chance to confront the evidence against them. The Constitution requires the government to provide our clients a fair chance to clear their names and a court will finally hear their claims.”
The case was argued before the three-judge appeals panel on May 11 this year and was filed in June 2010.
According to the ACLU's legal complaint, thousands of people have been added to the "No Fly List" and barred from commercial air travel without any opportunity to learn about or refute the basis for their inclusion on the list. The result is a vast and growing list of individuals who, on the basis of error or innuendo, have been deemed too dangerous to fly but who are too harmless to arrest.
In addition to Choudhury, attorneys on the case are Hina Shamsi of the national ACLU, Kevin Díaz and cooperating attorney Steven Wilker with the ACLU of Oregon; Ahilan Arulanantham and Jennie Pasquarella with the ACLU of Southern California; Alan Schlosser and Julia Harumi Mass of the ACLU of Northern California; Laura Ives of the ACLU of New Mexico; and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.