Center Square

Oregon Man’s Lawsuit Against FBI over No Fly List May Proceed

March 20, 2024

(The Center Square)—The United States Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of a man suing the FBI over what he feels is a violation of his Fifth Amendment right to due process.

The court ruled that the government cannot “use legal gamesmanship to dodge citizens’ attempts to assert their constitutional rights,” according to a press release from the Liberty Justice Center.

The ruling means that the man’s lawsuit, which the FBI wanted to dismiss, can continue.

“Just because the government has not yet demonstrated that Mr. Fikre’s case is moot does not mean it will never be able to do so,” Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the court’s opinion. “This case comes to us in a preliminary posture, framed only by uncontested factual allegations and a terse declaration. As the case unfolds, the complaint’s allegations will be tested rather than taken as true, and different facts may emerge that may call for a different conclusion.”

A Muslim-American from Portland, Oregon, named Yonas Fikre filed the lawsuit.

The man found himself placed on the No Fly List in 2010 while on a business trip to Sudan. The FBI told him he could be removed from the list if he became an informant about a mosque he attended in Portland. Fikre declined and was stranded abroad for years. He then sued the FBI for violating his constitutional rights as an American.

The FBI removed his name from the No Fly List in 2016 and asked a federal court to dismiss his lawsuit, arguing it was moot. However, the FBI never explained why he was on the list or why it took him off.

The Supreme Court argued that the government never met its “formidable” burden of proof to show it wouldn’t add the man back to the list.

Back in December, the Liberty Justice Center filed an amicus brief in favor of the Muslim-American man, arguing that the government violated his rights.

“In yesterday’s decision in FBI v. Fikre, the Court correctly upheld a well-settled rule—the government cannot avoid constitutional review by simply stopping illegal behavior when sued by those whose rights it is violating,” Reilly Stephens, Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a release.