US Supreme Court to Hear ‘No Fly List’ Appeal

Last week the government’s petition to appeal a dispute over whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allows lawsuits for money damages against individual federal workers who placed individuals on the ‘no fly list’.

The appeal came about when  three Muslim individuals, namely Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibah and Naveed Shinwari, claimed that in retribution for their refusal to inform the authorities on state matters, government officials improperly listed their names on the “no fly list,” which according to the appeal, violates their rights under the First Amendment and the RFRA.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act currently limits the power authorities have over religious freedom and exercising said religion, unless there is substantial reason or motive to take action.

The plaintiff’s claim was originally rejected by the district court, but then reversed by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the basis that certain stipulations of the RFRA allows litigants to “obtain appropriate relief against a government,” thus allowing lawsuits for monetary damages against federal workers as individuals as opposed to their official capacity.

The government appeal is based on the allegation that the case “raises fundamental separation-of-powers concerns with a significant impact on Executive Branch operations nationwide.”

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