Supreme Court: Men put on no-fly list can sue FBI under religious freedom law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that three Muslims who were put on the national no-fly list after refusing to be informants for the FBI can sue the federal government for damages.

The high court voted unanimously in favor of the Muslim men, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion in the 8-0 ruling. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the Supreme Court last month, did not vote because she was not on the bench when arguments were made in the case, Tanzin vs. Tanvir.

Attorneys for the men in the case say they legally migrated to the United States and have never posed a flying threat, but found themselves on the no-fly list after they declined to be informants for the FBI.

They were taken off the list just a few days before going to court, but the men continued to pursue legal action.

“We conclude that [the law’s] express remedies provision permits litigants, when appropriate, to obtain money damages against federal officials in their individual capacities,” the 11-page opinion states.

“A damages remedy is not just ‘appropriate’ relief as viewed through the lens of suits against government employees. It is also the only form of relief that can remedy some [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] violations.”

The Supreme Court’s judgment affirmed a ruling by the Second Circuit U.S.Court of Appeals, which said the men were allowed seek “appropriate relief” from the government under federal law.
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