Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Against FBI

In a Supreme Court session characterized by split decisions on hot-button societal issues, all nine justices ruled against the FBI in a suit brought by a U.S. citizen who found himself on the federal no-fly list.

According to The Hill, Yonas Fikre, a U.S. citizen who previously resided in Sudan, claimed his placement on the list in 2010 was unlawful and sued the FBI. Years later, and after he had filed suit, the government removed him from the list and signaled it was unlikely he would be placed back on the list. It then contended Fikre’s lawsuit was moot as a result and should be tossed.

In a provisional ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the court’s opinion that it rejected the government’s argument that not declaring lawsuits like Fikre’s moot could force the government to release classified security information.

“Just because the government has not yet demonstrated that Mr. Fikre’s case is moot does not mean it will never be able to do so,” Gorsuch said. “This case comes to us in a preliminary posture, framed only by uncontested factual allegations and a terse declaration. As the case unfolds, the complaint’s allegations will be tested rather than taken as true, and different facts may emerge that may call for a different conclusion.”

The ruling was seen as a victory by opponents of FBI surveillance as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the ruling was a “Historic Milestone for American Muslims.”

In a press release, CAIR said Fikre was tortured and imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates at the behest of American officials, and then stranded in Sweden because of his status on the no-fly list, after he refused pressure from the FBI to become an informant.

CAIR said the government only took Fikre off the list after the group filed suit and tried to argue that Fikre’s case was moot in order to avoid the threat of a court ruling declaring the entire watchlist unconstitutional.

According to Straight Arrow News, Fikre’s case will now proceed in the lower courts where his allegations will be thoroughly examined.