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'Fight, Not Flight: ACLU Takes on the Federal "No Fly" List in Portland'

'Fight, Not Flight: ACLU Takes on the Federal "No Fly" List in Portland'

Old Feb 2, 11, 1:00 pm
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'Fight, Not Flight: ACLU Takes on the Federal "No Fly" List in Portland'

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PORTLAND'S FEDERAL COURT has become the battleground for a major lawsuit that will impact civil liberties, national safety, and that ritual every American dreads: airport security.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) faced off against federal lawyers on Friday, January 21, in downtown Portland at the first hearing of its case claiming that the government's "No Fly List" is unconstitutional.

On behalf of 10 US citizens and permanent residents, including Portlander Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, the ACLU alleges that the "No Fly List" violates the right of due process because the government does not tell people whether they've been placed on the list, why they're suspect, or provide an adequate way to get someone's name off.

ACLU attorney Ben Wizner explained that his team chose to file in Portland in part because it's where Kariye is from, but also because they hope the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers the West Coast) will give the case a fairer shake than other circuits.

"This is the most important case to date that asks the court to answer this question: Can the government put someone on a secret list, not tell them that they're on this secret list, not tell them why they're on this secret list, and not give them any process to object to being on the list?" Wizner told reporters from the steps of the federal courthouse on Friday afternoon.
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Old Feb 2, 11, 1:24 pm
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That's what I find really creepy about the No Fly List.

On behalf of 10 US citizens and permanent residents, including Portlander Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, the ACLU alleges that the "No Fly List" violates the right of due process because the government does not tell people whether they've been placed on the list, why they're suspect, or provide an adequate way to get someone's name off.
It's like the people that have to sign up for ReDress. TSA does not confirm, not deny that they are on the list.
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Old Feb 2, 11, 1:32 pm
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I'm glad they're finally getting to this but I have to say, overall I've been disappointed with the ACLU when it comes to TSA. They've been dropping the ball and while I'm glad EPIC is trying as hard as they can to rake the TSA over the coals, I'd have expected the ACLU to have jumped down the TSA's throats a long time ago.

Are they just overloaded from other cases or is something else going on?
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Old Feb 2, 11, 1:37 pm
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Originally Posted by celticwhisper View Post
Are they just overloaded from other cases or is something else going on?
Why not call or email them about it?

Better yet, post your question to their FB wall. I've gotten good responses from companies and organizations via that method of contact. @:-)
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Old Feb 2, 11, 10:17 pm
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I'd love to know why they haven't defended the 4th amendment better. But I don't want to reactivate my FB account. That's a different can of worms.
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Old Feb 2, 11, 11:15 pm
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Originally Posted by celticwhisper View Post
I'm glad they're finally getting to this but I have to say, overall I've been disappointed with the ACLU when it comes to TSA. They've been dropping the ball and while I'm glad EPIC is trying as hard as they can to rake the TSA over the coals, I'd have expected the ACLU to have jumped down the TSA's throats a long time ago.

Are they just overloaded from other cases or is something else going on?
They are overloaded, underfunded and they choose their cases very carefully. These cases are very expensive to litigate and they can't afford losers which would include their three rendition cases so far.

This is the second suit that the ACLU filed against the NFL. The ACLU dropped the first NFL suit because the DOJ mooted it by telling the TSA give the guy his job back (the pilot). In the current NFL case (which has been going on for some time now, by the way), the DOJ tried to moot the case by telling the FBI and TSA to get the plaintiffs home. Now the FBI has a procedure to make a one-time exception to fly these unfortunate folks home; you just saw that in the CAIR case involving Kuwait after the Judge hinted that a hearing would be held. The ACLU dropped the Bierfeldt suit because the DOJ mooted the case by telling the TSA to change their SOP.

Meanwhile, the ACLU is challenging the wiretapping laws in MD and IL with respect to recording [cops] in public. They are are suing to change the standard CBP uses for searches of electronic media and also to limit extended border detentions. They also have their heels dug in in the George case (arabic flying cards)-- the government's motions in this case are really quite something.

I'll add more if I think of them (added George case above already); the ACLU has not been MIA.

Last edited by Ari; Feb 2, 11 at 11:58 pm Reason: Add George case.
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Old Feb 2, 11, 11:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Ari View Post
They are overloaded, underfunded and they choose their cases very carefully. These cases are very expensive to litigate and they can't afford losers which would include their three rendition cases so far.

This is the second suit that the ACLU filed against the NFL. The ACLU dropped the first NFL suit because the DOJ mooted it by telling the TSA give the guy his job back (the pilot). In the current NFL case (which has been going on for some time now, by the way), the DOJ tried to moot the case by telling the FBI and TSA to get the plaintiffs home. Now the FBI has a procedure to make a one-time exception to fly these unfortunate folks home; you just saw that in the CAIR case involving Kuwait after the Judge hinted that a hearing would be held. The ACLU dropped the Bierfeldt suit because the DOJ mooted the case by telling the TSA to change their SOP.

Meanwhile, the ACLU is challenging the wiretapping laws in MD and IL with respect to recording [cops] in public. They are are suing to change the standard CBP uses for searches of electronic media and also to limit extended border detentions.

I'll add more if I think of them; the ACLU has not been MIA.
Thanks for the information. I'll probably contribute to them again. I stopped supporting them because they didn't seem terribly interested in the Constitutional issues that I was interested in, seemingly preferring some odd edge cases. I'll look into them again.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 1:56 am
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9th circuit is on a losing streak, their last 5 rulings in the supreme court have been overruled. If the ACLU wins this in portland they are sure to lose it in DC.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 6:10 am
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Originally Posted by HWGeeks View Post
9th circuit is on a losing streak, their last 5 rulings in the supreme court have been overruled. If the ACLU wins this in portland they are sure to lose it in DC.
While the 9th circuit does have a poor won-loss record in the SC, I would hesitate suggesting the ACLU is "sure" to lose at the SC when it comes to the government maintaining secret lists with no recourse. The "security at all costs" mantra that the fascists among us keep mouthing is starting to lose its impact - even inside the Beltway.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 7:30 am
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
While the 9th circuit does have a poor won-loss record in the SC, I would hesitate suggesting the ACLU is "sure" to lose at the SC when it comes to the government maintaining secret lists with no recourse. The "security at all costs" mantra that the fascists among us keep mouthing is starting to lose its impact - even inside the Beltway.
agree. the visual impact (grandmothers getting felt up, screaming kids being felt up) of the consequences of this mentality is beginning to make itself felt. Some things will trump lobbyist cash...
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Old Feb 3, 11, 9:12 am
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Originally Posted by HWGeeks View Post
9th circuit is on a losing streak, their last 5 rulings in the supreme court have been overruled. If the ACLU wins this in portland they are sure to lose it in DC.
Sure to lose? Really? The statistics (PDF from the ABA) do show that the 9th circuit gets reversed often, but the rate is not 100%. It's not even the highest reversal rate (the Federal Circuit's rate is higher).

However, to put things in perspective, of 114,199 cases terminated in the 9th circuit from 1999 to 2008, 68 were vacated or reversed by the Supreme Court. That's about 0.06% of cases. This seems like a pretty small risk.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 10:03 am
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Thanks, Ari. That clears things up a lot. I tend to more closely follow the EFF than I do the ACLU so I get out of touch sometimes. Most appreciated.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
I'd love to know why they haven't defended the 4th amendment better. But I don't want to reactivate my FB account.
Unlike Flyertalk, duplicate handles are not prohibited on FB.

Originally Posted by Ari View Post
They are overloaded, underfunded and they choose their cases very carefully. These cases are very expensive to litigate and they can't afford losers which would include their three rendition cases so far.

*snip summary*
Thanks very much for the info. You are most helpful. ^
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Old Feb 3, 11, 2:49 pm
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Originally Posted by essxjay View Post
Thanks very much for the info. You are most helpful. ^
Originally Posted by celticwhisper View Post
Thanks, Ari. That clears things up a lot. I tend to more closely follow the EFF than I do the ACLU so I get out of touch sometimes. Most appreciated.
Originally Posted by nachtnebel View Post
Thanks for the information. I'll probably contribute to them again. I stopped supporting them because they didn't seem terribly interested in the Constitutional issues that I was interested in, seemingly preferring some odd edge cases. I'll look into them again.
Any time; I'll try to keep this blog updated from time to time with their stuff; if anyone ever wants copies of their briefs or the government's replys, please let me know and I can email them.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by HWGeeks View Post
9th circuit is on a losing streak, their last 5 rulings in the supreme court have been overruled. If the ACLU wins this in portland they are sure to lose it in DC.
This isn't true at all. The USSC refuses certorari on the vast majority of cases in the first place.
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