Federal Judge Rules No-Fly List Process Is Unconstitutional

June 24, 2014

A federal judge in Oregon says the process surrounding the federal government’s “no-fly list” is unconstitutional.

Specifically, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown said the process doesn’t give Americans on the list an effective way to challenge their inclusion.

The Oregonian reports:

In a 65-page opinion issued Tuesday, … Brown ordered the government to come up with a new way for the 13 plaintiffs to contest their inclusion on the list that prohibits them from flying in or through U.S. airspace. The government must provide notice to the plaintiffs that they are on the roster and give the reasons for their inclusion, Brown wrote. She also ordered that the government allow the plaintiffs to submit evidence to refute the government’s suspicions.

“The decision marks a big win for the plaintiffs, all U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the case on their behalf. The plaintiffs have all been denied boarding due to their placement on the list, they argue, despite never having been charged with a terrorism-related offense.”

In the opinion, Brown writes that being placed on the list has far-reaching implications. Flying internationally, she writes, is not a luxury, but a right. She concludes:

“One need not look beyond the hardships suffered by Plaintiffs to understand the significance of the deprivation of the right to travel internationally. Due to the major burden imposed by inclusion on the No-Fly List, Plaintiffs have suffered significantly including long-term separation from spouses and children; the inability to access desired medical and prenatal care; the inability to pursue an education of their choosing; the inability to participate in important religious rites; loss of employment opportunities; loss of government entitlements; the inability to visit family; and the inability to attend important personal and family events such as graduations, weddings, and funerals. The Court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society.

“Accordingly, on this record the Court concludes Plaintiffs’ inclusion on the No-Fly List constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel.”

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