Portland, OR- A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the current procedures for placing a passenger on a “no-fly” list are unconstitutional and are in need of reform, writing that “without proper notice and an opportunity to be heard, an individual could be doomed to indefinite placement on the No-Fly List.” 

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has ruled that the procedures that have been used by those on the no-fly list are “wholly ineffective” and do not “provide a meaningful mechanism for travelers who have been denied boarding to correct erroneous information in the government’s terrorism databases.”

Brown has ordered the government to reform their current procedures to allow no-fly subjects to give evidence to argue their status on the list. Brown has also ordered the federal government to notify people who are on the no-fly list, and has directed the government to disclose the reason for a person’s inclusion on the list. The no-fly list has been regarded as highly secretive.

The ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of 13 Americans who discovered they were banned from flying. The plaintiffs, none of whom had been charged with any crimes, alleged that they were offered no reason from the government for the decision, and found there was no effective method of removing themselves from the list. The plaintiffs made attempts to resolve their situations by submitting applications to DHS  asking for clarification, but the agency didn’t provide any answers to them.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) criticized the decision, calling it a “great recipe for disaster” and insisting that it “it makes no sense whatsoever.” 

Rogers was discussing the possibility of bombs being built by terrorist organizations trying to “show their chops by having an international terrorist attack,” then made the claim “and now you just had a judge rule that we can’t put someone on a no-fly list. You tell me why I can’t sleep at night.”

ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi praised the ruling: “Our clients will finally get the due process to which they are entitled under the Constitution. This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the No Fly List, with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardship.”

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