ACLU in Appeals Court Today for No Fly List Challenge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; PORTLAND, Ore. – The American Civil Liberties Union will argue in a federal appeals court today that its challenge to the government’s secretive No Fly List should be reinstated. The ACLU represents 15 U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including four military veterans, who are banned from flying to or from the U.S. or over American airspace, causing great personal hardship. They have never been told why they are on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it. The national ACLU, along with its affiliates in Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and New Mexico, filed the lawsuit against the FBI, which creates and controls the list. Last May, the district court in Portland dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that the lawsuit should have been filed against the Transportation Security Administration, which administers the redress process for travelers denied boarding. “It is unconstitutional for the government to put people on secret lists and deny them the right to travel without even basic due process,” said Nusrat Choudhury, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “Without a meaningful way for people to challenge their inclusion on the list, there’s no way to keep innocent people off it. We filed our case against the right agency, and the government’s effort to delay a hearing on the constitutionality of this unfair system is wrong.” Being unable to fly has severely affected the plaintiffs’ lives, including their ability to be with their families, go to school, and travel for work. Plaintiff Abe Mashal, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer, has lost the business of clients located outside of driving distance from his home in Illinois. “I have no idea why I’m on the list,” said Mashal. “I should have the chance to clear my name and live my life normally. This has been a real hardship for me both personally and financially.” Today’s arguments will be at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting in Portland. In addition to Choudhury, attorneys on the case are Hina Shamsi of the national ACLU; Kevin D