[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the government’s practice of adding people to a no-fly list is unconstitutional. US District Judge Anna Brown ruled that the list, which bans people from commercial flights due to alleged links to terrorism, violates a person’s constitutional rights because it gives them no way to contest the decision. The judge ordered the government to develop new methods that allow people who are put on the no-fly list to contest that designation. The original lawsuit was brought on behalf of 13 Americans who were put on the list without notice or a way of removing themselves. In a statement [press release] following Tuesday’s decision the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] declared it a “landmark ruling.” ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi, one of the attorneys who argued the case, stated:
For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair No Fly List procedures, and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court… Our clients will finally get the due process to which they are entitled under the Constitution. This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the No Fly List, with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardship. We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watchlist system, which has swept up so many innocent people.
Government lawyers are reviewing the decision and have not said whether they plan to appeal.
The no-fly list was created by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), a branch of the FBI [official websites], in 2003. The TSC was established by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 [text] which, “directed that a center be established to consolidate the government’s approach to terrorism screening and to provide for the appropriate and lawful use of terrorist information in screening processes.” In 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated [JURIST report] a challenge brought by the ACLU over the no-fly list maintained by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). The Ninth Circuit ruled in 2008 that those placed on the government’s no-fly list can challenge their inclusion on the list [JURIST report] in federal district courts. The court held that the TSC, which actually maintains the list, is a subsection of the FBI and is therefore subject to review by the district courts.