The Jibrils, a family of seven, got separated, questioned, searched, and detained by federal agents in 2018 traveling to and from Jordan.  Agents separated the parents from their two-year-old and other minor children, and patted down and searched them all extensively, with long delays.  They  challenged these actions and their reasonable belief that they were on the Terrorist Watchlist, maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center.


On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of  the Jibrils and reversed the judgment against them from the district level. The Court of Appeals recognized the absurdity of the government’s argument that the family members had no right to sue because they didn’t know whether they remain on a watchlist until they try to fly again, when the reason they don’t know is that the government refuses to tell them. The D.C. Circuit called that argument “heartless.”

The case went back to the District Court, the government filed a new motion to dismiss and for the first time provided information in camera (meaning only for the judge to see) that purports to show there is no more risk to any family member – and hasn’t been since before the first filing of the lawsuit in 2018.. The district court “reluctantly” granted that motion to dismiss, and we appealed again. We look forward to arguing this case to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals again soon.


The courts recognized the rights of the Jibril family members, and others, to challenge government action without needing to suffer harm all over again. And, the appellate court recognized that they have a right to their day in court when they challenge an action by the Terrorist Screening Center, and do not need to go straight to an appellate court for review.  This opens the courts to many more plaintiffs and makes the government answer directly to many more individuals who’ve been harmed.