On June 24, a federal judge struck a blow against the No-Fly List, which the Department of Homeland Security has been administering since shortly after 9/11. There are more than 20,000 people on the No-Fly List.
In a case brought by 13 U.S. citizens who were denied boarding after January 1, 2009, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ruled that the government had violated their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. Four of the plaintiffs were veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The judge ruled that the plaintiffs were not given an adequate opportunity to challenge their placement on the No-Fly List.
“At no point during the judicial-review process,” the judge wrote, “does the government provide the petitioner with confirmation as to whether the petitioner is on the No Fly List, set out the reasons for including petitioner’s name on the List, or identify any information or evidence relied on to maintain the petitioner’s name on the List.”
The judge added that someone who is put on the list “does not have an opportunity to contest or knowingly to offer corrections to the record on which any such determination may be based.”
As she bluntly put it: “Without proper notice and an opportunity to be heard, an individual could be doomed to indefinite placement on the No-Fly list.”
The plaintiffs in this case, she wrote, “have suffered significantly, including long-term separation from spouses and children; the inability to access desired medical and prenatal care; the inability to pursue an education of their choosing; the inability to participate in important religious rites; loss of employment opportunities; loss of government entitlements; the inability to visit family; and the inability to attend important personal and family events, such as graduations, weddings, and funerals.”
One of the plaintiffs, Ayman Latif, a Marine veteran, was living in Egypt from November 2008 to April 2010. When he and his family tried to come home, “Latif was not allowed to board the first leg of their flight from Cairo to Madrid. . . . Because he was unable to board a flight to the United States, Latif’s United States veteran disability benefits were reduced from $899 per month to zero as the result of being unable to attend the scheduled evaluations required to keep his benefits.”
These problems with the No-Fly list not only violate the Fifth Amendment’s protection of “procedural due process,” she said. They also violate the law that established the screening list, she added, since that law also required due process.
Matthew Rothschild is the senior editor of The Progressive magazine and the author of “You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression.” He first wrote about the “No-Fly List” in the June 2002 issue of The Progressi