A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that flying is a constitutionally-protected right, rejecting the U.S. government's argument that citizens placed upon the no-fly list are not deprived of any civil liberties.
Per the Associated Press:
A federal judge ruled that people placed on the U.S. government's no-fly list have a constitutionally protected interest in traveling by air, and the right to due process when it's denied.The ACLU, which filed the suit in Oregon on behalf of 13 plaintiffs who want their names removed from the no-fly list, did so under the presupposition that the government's secret process violated citizens' civil liberties and right to due process.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown of Portland, in an opinion released late Wednesday, rejected the government's assertion that people on the no-fly list can travel by other means, and that being on the list does not deprive them of their liberty. She said it ignores "the realities of our modern world."
Nusrat Choudhury, an ACLU lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the Oregon case, explained the importance and significance of this ruling:
"For the first time, a federal court has recognized that when the government bans Americans from flying and smears them as suspected terrorists, it deprives them of constitutionally protected liberties, and they must have a fair process to clear their names."While Judge Brown agreed with the ACLU that citizens have a right to due process, the Justice Department has been asked to submit information on exactly how it determines who is on the no-fly list, and Brown will determine whether the government's judicial procedures satisfy the due process requirement.
Many suspect that the government's secret procedures for determining who is on the no-fly list, and the limited judicial review option it grants those who challenge their placement on the list, will be viewed as not satisfying the due process requirement.
Regardless, this ruling is significant in that it establishes Americans' travel by air as a constitutionally-protected liberty.
A liberty that can only be curbed via due process – and not via secret, arbitrary government decisions.