Yesterday the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit released its opinion in Latif v. Holder. Ayman Latif is a U.S. Citizen and disabled Marine Corps veteran who lives in Egypt. Airport officials in Cairo prevented him from boarding a plane to return to the United States, where he needed to attend a scheduled disability evaluation. Latif sought help from the U.S. Embassy, but he alleges that months later, after lengthy FBI interviews and polygraph tests, American officials told him that he could fly to the United States only as a “one-time thing,” without any guarantee that he would be allowed to return to his wife and daughters in Egypt. He refused the offer and his benefits as a disabled veteran were cut.
Latif filed suit, along with other citizens and lawful permanent residents in the U.S. and abroad who alleged similar treatment. They all claimed that they were prevented from traveling because the United States Government placed them on its No Fly List. This unanimous court of appeals decision opens a door to judicial review that, until yesterday, the Government had succeeded in keeping tightly shut. After the break, I’ll provide a brief review of the current system and then analyze how the Ninth Circuit’s opinion presents a substantial opportunity for change.
(Full Disclosure: Readers might recall me as a past guest at Concurring Opinions. My bio is here and my interest in this case comes from my work on a book to be published in December by the University of Michigan Press called Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists.) Read More