On Wednesday August 4th, 2019, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga ruled in favor of labeling the controversial U.S. terror watch list unconstitutional for how vague the rules of inclusion are. For years, more than 1 million people have been placed on the terror watch list for being identified as “known or suspected terrorists,” which has affected their ability to travel and move about freely.
Muslim Americans in particular rejoiced and hailed the ruling as a “complete victory”. Hassan Shibly, a lawyer who heads CAIR’s Florida chapter, and was named as a plaintiff claimed, “This is a tremendous victory, not just for all American Muslims, but for all Americans who care about civil rights and the Constitution”.
Muslim Americans in particular rejoiced and hailed the ruling as a “complete victory”. tweet
“For decades, every time I have traveled and every time many people I know who traveled and who share my faith have been stopped at the border for hours at a time, placed in handcuffs, interrogated and treated as second-class citizens,” he said.
While the list initially intended to include names of those who are “known or suspected terrorist”, many residents argue that their names have been unjustly added. In his ruling, Judge Trenga acknowledges that the wording, “suspected terrorist,” could be a label earned by conduct that is easily misconstrued.
“For decades, every time I have traveled and every time many people I know who traveled and who share my faith have been stopped at the border for hours at a time, placed in handcuffs, interrogated and treated as second-class citizens.” tweet
According to Judge Trenga’s 32 page opinion, the list fails to to meet the standards for constitutionally sufficient procedural due process — a right of every American citizen, regardless of religion, race, sex, or disability.
In a time of protracted social conflict against the Muslim American community, Judge Trenga’s ruling comes as beacon of hope for the millions of American Muslims living in an unjust world. Yet, in order to progress toward justice and equity in the U.S., the CAIR Florida chief insisted that the watch-list system will need a “complete overhaul”. With this massive victory, perhaps a complete overhaul isn’t too far in the future.