Debevoise, CUNY and the Center for Constitutional Rights Argue in Supreme Court on Behalf of American Muslims Placed or Kept on No-Fly List

6 October 2020

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is co-counsel with the CLEAR Project at CUNY School of Law and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in Tanzin v. Tanvir, in which oral argument was heard in the Supreme Court today.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four American Muslim men who were placed or kept on the No-Fly List in retaliation for refusing to spy on their Muslim communities. Being on the No-Fly List meant that for years, the plaintiffs were unable to see their families overseas, lost jobs that required air travel and gave up plane tickets that could not be used. The men initially sued to be removed from the No-Fly List and for damages. After years of being prevented from flying, and just days before the first major hearing in the case, the men each received a letter informing them they were no longer on the List. A judge then dismissed the remaining portion of their lawsuit, which sought damages for the emotional and financial harm the men had suffered, but a federal appeals court reinstated the case. The Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court.

Professor Ramzi Kassem of CUNY School of Law argued before the Court, urging it to uphold a ruling that the men may sue the FBI agents for interfering with their freedom to practice their religion. At issue before the Supreme Court is the question of whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows plaintiffs to recover monetary damages from government officials like the FBI agents who improperly placed or kept plaintiffs on the No Fly List.

For more information, click here to see the Center for Constitutional Rights’ press release.

The Debevoise team is led by counsel Jennifer R. Cowan and includes counsel Erol Gulay and associates Omar Debs, Christopher Ford, William Mattessich, Ryan Mullally and Sandy Tomasik