I have railed against the abuse of the US government’s notorious ‘No Fly List’, where the government keeps a secret list that tells airlines not to let people fly without telling them why they have been forbidden, what they need to do to get their names removed, nor even (in the early days) that they have such a list at all. This is such an arbitrary abuse of government power and due process that it boggles the mind
Now a federal judge has ruled that this is unconstitutional. The ACLU that brought the suit on behalf of 13 Americans who had been denied boarding issued a statement about the ruling, that describes the absurdities of the current system.
The judge ordered the government to create a new process that remedies these shortcomings, calling the current process “wholly ineffective” and a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process. The ruling also granted a key request in the lawsuit, ordering the government to tell the ACLU’s clients why they are on the No Fly List and give them the opportunity to challenge their inclusion on the list before the judge.
According to media reports, there are more than 20,000 people on the No Fly List. Their only recourse is to file a request with the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP), after which DHS responds with a letter that does not explain why they were denied boarding. The letter does not confirm or deny whether their names remain on the list, and does not indicate whether they can fly.
The ruling from the U.S. District Court in Oregon found, “[W]ithout proper notice and an opportunity to be heard, an individual could be doomed to indefinite placement on the No-Fly List. … [T]he absence of any meaningful procedures to afford Plaintiffs the opportunity to contest their placement on the No-Fly List violates Plaintiffs’ rights to procedural due process.”
The Obama administration is likely to appeal since there is nothing they like better than secret coercive powers.