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Supreme Court Issues Unanimous Ruling in Favor of American Muslims Wrongfully Placed on No-Fly List

12.10.2020

In a case addressing discriminatory national security practices, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion today in favor of American Muslims, ruling that they should be able to seek money damages for violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, on behalf of Muslim Advocates, filed an amicus brief in the matter, Tanzin v. Tanvir, supporting American Muslims who resisted the federal government’s attempts to coerce them into spying on members of their religious community.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court spoke with one voice in favor of holding government officials accountable for such an outrageous and unlawful scheme to target American Muslims,” said HSG attorney Andrei Vrabie. “Not only does the Court’s opinion ensure that these plaintiffs will have the opportunity to be compensated for the substantial harms they suffered, but it will also discourage the government from engaging in similar violations of Americans’ religious liberties.”

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 U.S. 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 challenged that ruling and lost. 

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that fights religious discrimination against vulnerable communities. Their statement on today’s ruling is available here.

The HSG team on the case also included David Sanson.

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