CLCMA Wins Major Victory from D.C. Circuit on Behalf of Watchlisted Clients

Today the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of seven members of the Jibril family, CLCMA’s clients whose case against the government was earlier dismissed at the district court level. The Court of Appeals recognized the absurdity of the government’s argument claiming the family members had no right to sue because they didn’t know upfront if they remain on a watchlist, despite using the DHS redress process, when the reason they don’t know is that the government refuses to tell them. The Court noted this disconnect in its ruling: “At oral argument, Government counsel suggested that if the Jibrils would like to determine whether they remain on a terrorist watchlist, some or all members of the family can book another trip to see whether they endure the same problems that they faced in 2018. Whether this suggestion was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek quip or simply a heartless argument, it makes no sense.”

Today’s opinion confirms that plaintiffs who believe themselves to be on a watchlist and suffer extensive, regular travel delays do not need to submit themselves to repeated harm simply to have the right to get to court. Today’s opinion also solidifies that plaintiffs sufficiently establish their standing to bring a lawsuit by showing regular past travel and pleading likely future travel, without the need to present a specific future flight reservation. And plaintiffs like the Jibrils, whom the Court recognized suffered “extensive and intrusive” screenings and “severe and time-delaying” treatment, have a right to challenge unconstitutional policies like the DHS TRIP redress process.

“We are thrilled for our clients, and pleased to see the pragmatic and realistic approach taken by the D.C. Circuit in its opinion today. As the Circuit Court recognized, our legal system does not require people like the Jibril family members to continually place themselves in a position to suffer more and more harm just to prove they have a right to access the courthouse steps,” observed Christina A. Jump, CLCMA’s Civil Litigation Department Head who presented the case at oral argument.

“We look forward to working with the Jibrils to do exactly what the appellate court confirmed today they have a right to do: challenge in court their unreasonable treatment and prolonged detention, the government’s search of their cell phones without probable cause, and the inadequate DHS redress process that leaves them no real way to protect their constitutional rights. We will continue to protect the rights of our clients, and all Americans, to practice their religion and exercise their rights under the Constitution with the same freedom as any other citizens.”

Today’s ruling is a victory for the Jibril family, the entire CLCMA team, and many of our other clients fighting to preserve the same rights. We look forward to continuing the fight in court.

Follow the links below to see more media coverage on this victory.

D.C. Circuit Scolds DOJ for Nonsensical Suggestion that Muslim Family ‘Book Another Trip’ to See if They’re on Terror Watch List