A US District Judge in Oregon declared the appeals process for getting removed from the No Fly List unconstitutional on Tuesday. Specifically, there isn't one. Judge Ann J Brown ruled that in order to comply with the constitution, there must be a means of appealing when someone finds themselves on the list.
The No Fly List has long been controversial for is secretive nature, people often finding themselves unable to travel by air and being unable to find out why. The modern day blacklisting has often included people by mistake, such as Stanford University Student Rahinah Ibraham, whose only crime was having the wrong bureaucrat fill out her paperwork. In her case, a federal employee checked the wrong box on a form and it led to an almost decade-long struggle to return to the US.
The suit was brought by the ACLU on behalf of 13 American citizens, all of whom are Muslims, and four who are veterans. The case represents a major victory for civil libertarians and the ACLU, but many believe it doesn't go far enough.
The right to travel has been long established by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution, though the government argued that it doesn't apply to commercial air travel. The Judge didn't see it that way, concluding that inclusion on the list doesn't mean the plaintiffs should lose their rights without knowing why.
The ruling didn't go as far to declare the No Fly List itself unconstitutional, only that there must be a due process for those on the list to appeal and find out why they were included.
“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,” said said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi.