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Holwell Shuster & Goldberg and Muslim Advocates File Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Over Discriminatory National Security Practices

02.13.2020

New York, NY—Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, on behalf of Muslim Advocates, filed yesterday an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting American Muslims who resisted the federal government’s attempts to coerce them into spying on members of their own religious community. The brief argues that American Muslims, long the victims of the government’s discriminatory national security practices, should be able to seek money damages for violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that fights religious discrimination against vulnerable communities. 

The litigation was initially brought by three individuals who were placed or kept on the No-Fly List after refusing FBI demands that they spy on fellow American Muslims. After they sued, the FBI removed them from the No-Fly List, rendering some of their claims moot. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, however, determined that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, they could seek damages against FBI officials in their individual capacities. The government has challenged that ruling. 

“The government—whose FBI agents egregiously abused their power in a shakedown scheme to compel Americans to gather information on their religious communities—now wants to deny these U.S. citizens a remedy for the harm they suffered,” said HSG attorney Andrei Vrabie. “That result would be inconsistent with our country’s longstanding commitment to protecting Americans’ religious liberties.” 

HSG and Muslim Advocates have worked together on related litigation. Previously, they represented a prominent Pakistani physician, Dr. Khushnood Ali Baz, who had apparently been placed on the No-Fly List without reason. 

The Supreme Court case is Tanzin v. Tanvir (No. 19-71). Argument is scheduled for March 24, 2020. The HSG team on the case also includes attorneys Jake Karr and David Sanson.

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