Federal court says Muslim Americans “have a constitutionally protected liberty interest” in being able to travel, lets no-fly list challenge advance.
Thirteen Muslim Americans challenging the U.S. government’s secretive “no-fly” list won a partial victory in federal court when a judge found they “have a constitutionally protected liberty interest” in traveling internationally by air.
But U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has yet to decide whether the government violated their constitutional rights to due process under a policy that excludes individuals from commercial air travel if they are suspected of having ties to terrorism.
In her ruling late on Wednesday in Portland, the judge also asked both the plaintiffs and the Department of Justice for more information before deciding key parts of the case.
The 13 plaintiffs, all U.S. citizens who deny any links to terrorism, say they were placed on the government’s no-fly list without notice or any realistic avenue of appeal.
The Justice Department has also argued that barring one’s access to air travel is not an undue burden or a violation of a constitutionally protected right.
Brown disagreed, disputing the government’s “contention that international air travel is a mere convenience, in light of the realities of our modern world.”
But the judge said she was not ready to decide on a proper remedy in the case, suggesting the answer hinged on whether the plaintiffs had an adequate avenue of appeal.
“The court is not yet able to resolve on the current record whether the judicial-review process is a sufficient, post-deprivation process under the … Constitution,” she wrote.
“For the first time, a federal court has recognized that when the government bans Americans from flying and smears them as suspected terrorists, it deprives them of constitutionally protected liberties, and they must have a fair process to clear their names,” ACLU attorney Nusrat Choudhury said in a statement.