Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s secretive No Fly List should go forward. This decision is a true victory for our clients and all Americans.
More than two years ago, 15 U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including four military veterans, were denied boarding on planes. None of them know why this happened. And no government authority has ever given them an explanation or a fair chance to clear their names.
In June 2010, we filed a lawsuit on their behalf. It challenges both the placement of these Americans on the No Fly List and the government’s failure to afford them a fair redress process after depriving them of their right to travel. We sued the logical government agencies: the FBI and its subagency, the Terrorist Screening Center, which creates and controls the No Fly List. But, in May 2011, the district court in Portland dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that we should have sued the Transportation Security Administration, which administers the (woefully deficient) redress process for travelers denied boarding on planes. We appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
At the hearing, I argued that the district court decision was wrong because TSA doesn’t have the power to put people on, or take them off, the No Fly List—that’s the job of the FBI and TSC. (You can listen to the argument here.) I also argued that placing our clients on the No Fly List without providing them any opportunity to confront and rebut the “evidence” against them is unconstitutional.