The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday that three Muslim men can sue FBI agents accused of placing the men on the U.S. government’s “no-fly list.”
The court ruled in an 8-0 decision that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 permits the men, who are all U.S. citizens or permanent residents, to sue for monetary damages, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Mental Health Improved For Only One Group During COVID — And Dems Did Everything They Could To Suppress It)
“A person whose exercise of religion has been unlawfully burdened may ‘obtain appropriate relief against a government,'” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the unanimous ruling, according to USA Today.
“A damages remedy is not just ‘appropriate’ relief as viewed through the lens of suits against government employees. It is also the only form of relief that can remedy some (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) violations,” Thomas added.
Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, and Naveed Shinwari accused FBI agents in 2013 of placing them on the government’s “no-fly list” after they refused to spy on Muslim communities in the United States, saying that the spying would violate their religious beliefs, USA Today reported.
#BREAKING: #SCOTUS just decided the gov’t can’t escape the Religious Freedom Restoration Act just by backing down after clearly violating religious freedom. This is vital protection for religious minorities, including 3 Muslim men allegedly targeted here: https://t.co/xV9hCmnfZT
— BECKET (@BECKETlaw) December 10, 2020
Though the Department of Homeland Security eventually allowed the men to fly and removed their restrictions, the men said that the “no-fly list” incident wasted their airline tickets and cost them job opportunities, according to the publication.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the ruling since she had not been confirmed in time to hear the case’s oral arguments, USA Today reported.
Critics said the ruling may negatively impact “officials who enforce nondiscrimination laws.”
“The same justices who routinely grant qualified immunity to law enforcement officers who brutalize civilians, locking their victims out of court, have now subjected federal officials to money damages when they violate an individual’s religious liberty,” tweeted Slate’s Mark Stern.
“The facts in this case are compelling,” he continued. “But in light of the conservative majority’s ever-expanding conception of ‘religious liberty,’ I am nervous that RFRA money damages will have a chilling effect on federal officials who enforce nondiscrimination laws.”
The case is one of several religious freedom cases that have come before the Supreme Court this year. Religious organizations in New York most recently took Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the Supreme Court over his restrictions on houses of worship, accusing Cuomo of “targeting Orthodox practices.”
Most conservative justices sided with religious organizations in the 5-4 ruling the night before Thanksgiving, while Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices.
The majority said that Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions on religious communities are “far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations that have previously come before the Court, much tighter than those adopted by many other jurisdictions hard hit by the pandemic, and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Earlier this year, the court sided 5-4 in favor of the liberal justices on COVID-19 religious restrictions in California and Nevada, according to CNN.
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