Ever worried you might accidentally end up on a “no-fly” list because of a misspelling? You don’t have to anymore. A federal judge ruled yesterday that the U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision.


The ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans  – four of them veterans of the U.S. military – who were branded with the no-fly status. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation. "The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world,” she wrote. “Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society.”


The 13 plaintiffs deny they have links to terrorism and say they only learned of their no-fly status when they arrived at an airport and were blocked from boarding a flight.   “For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair no-fly list procedures and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court," says Hina Shamsi, the ACLU's national security project director. "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 hardships.”


  • What about this mystery list? The no-fly list, established in 2003 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, bars those on it from flying within the United States or to and from the country. As of last year, it included approximately 20,000 people deemed by the FBI as having, or reasonably suspected of having, ties to terrorism, an agency spokesman said at the time. About 500 of them were U.S. citizens.

Source: USA Today