A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the no-fly list — a secretive government list that bars some from flying in or out of the United States — violates the Constitution by denying those on the list their right to due process.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown asked the government earlier this year to provide more information as to how those placed on the no-fly list can challenge it, but Tuesday deemed this process "wholly ineffective," according to the Oregonian.
Thirteen people who could not fly due to their status on the government list, which was established after the attacks on 9/11, filed a lawsuit in 2010 that moved between district and appellate courts before a decision last summer by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the lawsuit back under Brown's jurisdiction.
In her 65-page ruling, Brown rejected the government's claims that the no-fly list is not an infringement of liberties because there are other means of travel.
"The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote.
"Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel."
Brown said placement on the no-fly list turns routine travel into an "odyssey," and some of those on the list have been subjected to detention and interrogation by foreign authorities.
The ruling shows Brown heeded that caution of government attorneys, who previously cautioned that she not to engage in "policymaking" were she to rule against them. Brown did not create a new procedure for those on the list to challenge their placement. Instead, Brown said the Department of Homeland Security needs to find a way to disclose to those on the list the unclassified information used to place them there.
Since much of what is used for placement is classified, Brown said the government should provide people on the list the nature and extent of the classified information, the type of threat they pose to national security, and the ways in which they can respond to the charges.
The process "does not provide a meaningful mechanism for travelers who have been denied boarding to correct erroneous information in the government's terrorism databases," Brown ruled.
U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said government attorneys were reviewing the decision and would have no comment Tuesday.
"This should serve as wake-up call to the government," American Civil Liberties Union attorney Hina Shamsi said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Front page image via Shutterstock.