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In No-Fly List Lawsuit by American Muslims, DOJ Argues ‘No Constitutional Right Not to Become an Informant’
The United States Justice Department has moved to dismiss a lawsuit in which American Muslims allege that that twenty-five law enforcement officials, particularly FBI agents, had them placed on the No Fly List after they refused to become government informants in their community.
In April, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Creative Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) Project filed a lawsuit on behalf of four American Muslim men, which claimed that they were “among the many innocent people who find themselves swept up in the United States government’s secretive watch list dragnet.” When they “declined to act as informants” for the FBI and to “spy on their own American Muslim communities and other innocent people,” they faced retaliation from the FBI and subsequently discovered they were on the No Fly List.
The Justice Department’s motion to dismiss [PDF] plainly argues “there is no constitutional right not to become an informant.” The department cited United States v. Paguio, a case from 1997 in which prosecutors “argued that prosecutors indicted her in order to pressure her co-defendant fiancé to cooperate.” The court ruled “there is no constitutional right not to ‘snitch.’”
Therefore, the Justice Department maintains that submitting the names of these four American Muslims to the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) for “consideration for the No Fly List,” even if based on their refusal to become informants, would not violate their constitutional rights. There is no clearly established right so the agents being sued are entitled to “qualified immunity” from their claims.