In Blow to ‘No Fly’ List, US Judge Rules Air Travel Is a Right

Precedent Could Allow Fliers to Contest Travel Bans

Though the case itself is still far from over, a major victory was scored for opponents of the US “no fly” list when US District Judge Anna Brown ruled that the ability to travel internationally by airplane is a constitutionally protected right.

The finding is part of an ongoing lawsuit by 13 Americans placed on the “no fly” list, who say they have been barred from travel without any due process, and with no way to get off the list.

The Justice Department has insisted that flying is not a right and banning someone from flying is just a minor inconvenience. They also maintain that there is a clear path to appeal being on the list.

In theory that’s true, and a person on the no fly list could go to the US appeals court to get removed. In practice the government never officially acknowledges that anyone is on the list, however, and keeps the reason for adding someone classified, so there’s no way to contest the secret list’s secret justification.

Judge Brown did not yet rule on any specific remedy, however the very fact that she conceded travel as being in the interest of “liberty” suggests she is taking the case seriously, and won’t simply shrug it off as a prerogative of the administration to unilaterally decide who can and can’t travel by airplane.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.