Secrecy News

Court to Weigh Judicial Approval of “No Fly” Cases

In a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list, in which the government has asserted the state secrets privilege, a federal court signaled that it would consider requiring judicial approval of “no fly” determinations involving U.S. citizens.

Judge Anthony J. Trenga, who presides over the case Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder in the Eastern District of Virginia, set a hearing on February 24 to allow the government to supplement its argument that the case must be dismissed on state secrets grounds. Judge Trenga has previously rejected government arguments that state secrets required dismissal of the case and concluded the case could proceed without the assertedly privileged documents. (Secrecy News, 10/31/14).

In a February 2 order, he told the government to be prepared to explain “how the under seal documents as to which the state secrets privilege is claimed preclude adjudication of the procedural due process claims without their use and disclosure.”

Beyond that, however, Judge Trenga hinted at a possible remedy to the constitutional challenge before the court involving independent judicial review of “no fly” determinations.

He asked the government to address “whether, and if so how, national security considerations make it impractical or otherwise undesirable to submit for ex parte, in camera judicial review and approval the placement of United States citizens on the No Fly List, either before a citizen’s placement on the No Fly List or within a specific time period after placement on the No Fly List.”

The upcoming hearing will be closed and ex parte.