Judge Rules for CLCMA’s Client in No Fly Challenge, Calling Government’s “Watchlisting Overview” Document Insufficient to Warrant Dismissal

Denying the government’s Motion to Dismiss in a case challenging a No Fly list designation, a federal court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the “Watchlisting Overview” document provided by the government is insufficient to support dismissing the Plaintiff’s claims.

CLCMA attorneys brought suit on behalf of a client who has been placed on the No Fly list, yet has received no meaningful reason why or opportunity to challenge that placement. CLCMA’s client has been trying for two years now, with the guidance of CLCMA’s Civil litigation attorneys, to find out why he is not able to fly and then to have an opportunity to challenge any reasons. Yet even after filing a lawsuit to compel the government to provide this information, CLCMA and its client don’t know the reasons.

The government claims it has met its burdens and the challenge is inappropriate, and points to a “Watchilisting Overview” it claims is from January 2018 to support its arguments. But federal district court Judge Randolph Moss disagreed, ruling on April 10, 2020 that the document provided by the government leave the Court “to puzzle over who ‘authorized’ the process, what makes the process ‘official,’ and whether the overview document has binding legal force.” And, the Court agrees that the government has still failed to identify “which government official makes the final decision with respect to an aggrieved traveler’s request for additional information regarding his inclusion … on the No Fly List.” Judge Moss continued, explaining that “the overview document leave[s] these critical questions unanswered” and that the “Court, accordingly, is unable to determine on the existing record whether it has jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff’s challenge.”

“This is a wonderful ruling for our client, and many other clients of ours as well, as the government tends to use the same arguments to defend its actions in most if not all of our cases challenging the No Fly and Watchlists,” observed Christina Jump, CLCMA’s Civil Litigation Department Head, who is litigating the case along with Civil Staff Attorney Leila Mustafa. “Our clients and others like them deserve to receive true due process, and exactly what the Constitution guarantees – meaningful due process and a right to be heard. Hopefully, the government will now shed more light on this process so that those who are wrongly designated can prove their innocence. We look forward to proceeding with litigation in this case and receiving exactly the answer the Judge wants as well.”

CLCMA’s Civil Litigation department has many cases pending at both the federal trial court and administrative stages on behalf of its clients, challenging placements on the No Fly list and Watchlists where our clients receive no explanation. CLCMA hopes to bring resolution to those who are being denied the right to challenge the actions by the government and the denials of their civil liberties.