No-Fly List Declared Unconstitutional By Federal Judge


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It's nearly thirteen years since the 9/11 attacks and the no-fly list is now considered a way of life. Or at least it was, until a federal judge’s recent ruling.

After 13 people sued the government after they were barred from flying to or within the United States, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown ruled that the measure was unconstitutional.

The basis of the Portland, Ore. judge’s ruling was the simple fact that those placed on a no-fly list have no means by which to challenge the decision.

Therefore, the judge ruled that such individuals were unconstitutionally deprived of the right to travel in the United States by plane.

Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for the U.S Justice Department, said that government attorneys are currently reviewing Brown's ruling.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Hina Shamsi declared the ruling a “[wake-up] call to the government.”

“This decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the no-fly list,” said Shamsi. She believes that the ruling will give them an opportunity to challenge “a Kafkaesque bureaucracy”.

The lawsuit began in 2010 when 13 individuals, including four military veterans, challenged the decision to put them on a no-fly list.

The case progressed slowly, as Brown had originally made the decision that she could not rule on the case.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, felt differently.

In 2012, the higher court sent the matter back to Brown, who decided the persons had a constitutional right to travel. She ruled that the United States government was violating that right without just cause.

“International travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," wrote Brown as part of her decision.

The plaintiffs complained that the no-fly list complicated their lives even when not in America. Their inclusion allegedly led some individuals to be held and interrogated by foreign authorities.

The increasingly controversial no-fly list dictates that thousands of people are forbidden from traveling by air in the United States. There have been a number of complaints about the fallibility of the list as some innocent travelers have been mistaken for terrorist suspects.

Image via Wikimedia Commons