Counsel with the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (“CLCMA”) argued today to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a client who, despite being a U.S. citizen with no criminal background, was detained and handcuffed when he attempted to fly out of the country, and not released until he provided access codes for his electronics.
“This case centers on the ‘privacies of life,’” began Christina Jump, CLCMA’s Civil Litigation Department Head, as she presented the case for CLCMA’s client.
“Without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion, or evidence of any contraband, Mr. Elsharkawi, a US citizen on his way to a religious pilgrimage, was still within the borders of the United States when he was detained, handcuffed and refused the legal representation that he requested. This continued for hours until after he agreed to provide access to his electronic devices. This occurred despite him having explained, among other things, his religious objections to private photographs of his family being viewed, and again was without any reason for suspicion other than that he was wearing religious attire.” CLCMA is appealing the unlawful searches of his electronics, which violate the Fourth Amendment and First Amendment, as well as the interference in CLCMA’s client’s right to make contracts without discrimination, including the purchase of his airline ticket. Ms. Jump answered questions from the three justices, while the hearing lasted approximately thirty minutes in total. The oral argument video and audio recordings are available here. https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view_video.php?pk_vid=0000018050
CLCMA has long represented this client’s interests, and continues to do so. See https://www.clcma.org/clcma-welcomes-friend-of-court-brief-by-electronic-frontier-foundation and https://www.clcma.org/clcma-files-appeal-brief-challenging-airport-detention-and-electronics-search . “We hope the Court of Appeals will recognize the well-established law that even proximity to a border does not mean ‘anything goes’ in searching individuals’ electronic devices,” stated Ms. Jump. “Hopefully, our client will be permitted to continue pursuing his causes of action in court, and hold the government accountable for its unjustified actions.”