Judge rules no fly list to be unconstitutional


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.

Comments

  1. colnago80 says

    The ruling will probably be upheld at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but it’s chances at the SCOTUS are problematical at best.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I think that’s a good judgement and agree with that idea that the no-fly list should be public and those on it able to challenge it.

    I’m also pretty sure there are things the Obama govt would like better than secret coercive powers though such as control of the Congress so they can get their policies through and much more reasonable and less partisan political scene with less insanity. Among other things. Of course, I could be wrong.

  3. Rik van says

    Wanting a free reign is not specific to the Obama administration. Every government (make that “everyone in power, anywhere”), would like to be able to do as it/he/she pleases without having to explain.

  4. says

    even (in the early days) that they have such a list at all

    That was to avoid FOIA requests. Specifically planning to avoid FOIA sort of shows that you’ve got something to hide.

  5. says

    Every government (make that “everyone in power, anywhere”), would like to be able to do as it/he/she pleases without having to explain

    Power has no value except in its abuse; that’s why those who want to enlarge power and authority are enemies of us all (and ultimately themselves).

  6. colnago80 says

    In other news, the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals upheld the District Court decision in Utah overturning the state’s ban on same sex marriage. In addition, a District Court judge in Indiana ruled that state’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. The folks at NOM must be chewing the rug.

  7. DsylexicHippo says

    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.

    They call this a “recourse”? A response that means nothing whatsoever? This is comedy gold.

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