More than a dozen Muslim Americans, including four veterans of the U.S. armed forces, will be allowed to proceed with a lawsuit over their inclusion on the U.S. government’s “no fly” list, under a ruling by a federal appeals court on Thursday.
The 15 plaintiffs in the case include 13 U.S. citizens and two legal permanent residents. They deny any links to terrorism and say they learned of their no-fly status when they were blocked from boarding different commercial flights. They have sued to have their names removed from the list.
In its ruling, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the plaintiffs could proceed with their constitutional challenge against the airline security measure, reversing a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case.
The no-fly list, established in 2003 and administered by the Terrorist Screening Center, includes some 20,000 people deemed by the FBI as known to have, or as reasonably suspected of having, ties to terrorism. About 500 of them are U.S. citizens, according to an agency spokesman.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit for the plaintiffs in June 2010, naming as defendants officials at the Justice Department, the FBI and the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which creates and controls the no-fly list.
A U.S. district judge in Portland, Oregon, dismissed the case in May 2011, finding that the suit should have been filed against the Transportation Security Administration, which runs the grievance process for travelers that are denied boarding.
The appeals court overruled that decision.
Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the government was reviewing the court’s decision.
Editing by Stacey Joyce