Current handling of the “no-fly list” of terrorist suspects barred from commercial flights over U.S. airspace was ruled unconstitutional Tuesday by a federal judge in Oregon.
In a 65-page ruling, published on the web site of the federal courts, Judge Anna Brown handed a major victory to 13 Muslim plaintiffs, including the imam of a Portland, Oregon mosque.
Importantly, Brown said the system as it exists does not give people a meaningful way to challenge their status on the list.
“The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment,” she said.
“Placement on the No-Fly List is a significant impediment to international travel. It is undisputed that inclusion on the No-Fly List completely bans listed persons from boarding commercial flights to or from the United States or over United States airspace,” Brown added.
“In addition, the realistic implications of being on the No-Fly List are far-reaching.
She said that for the American defendants, being barred from travel means that they can be forced to endure long separations from their children and spouses, and even hindered from receiving medical care.
“One need not look beyond the hardships suffered by plaintiffs to understand the significance of the deprivation of the right to travel internationally. Due to the major burden imposed by inclusion on the No-Fly List,” Brown stressed.
She concluded that “international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many, international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society.
“Accordingly, on this record the Court concludes Plaintiffs’ inclusion on the No-Fly List constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel.”