The U.S. government's "no fly" list violates constitutional protections by depriving travelers of a meaningful way to have their names removed, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown of Portland, Oregon, ordered the Justice Department to redraft procedures "with the requisite due process" and without jeopardizing national security.
Thirteen plaintiffs, mostly Muslim-Americans, challenged their inclusion on the list. They said they were denied boarding on flights without explanation and were not allowed to present evidence to show they were no threat to public safety.
"A traveler who has not been given any indication of the information that may be in the record does not have any way to correct that information," Brown wrote in her 65-page opinion and order.
The "no-fly" list produced by the FBI was created after the 9/11 al Qaeda hijacking of four airliners as an anti-terror measure. It has been expanded over the years and includes thousands of names.
It also has been the subject of controversy at times over its size, the criteria for selecting names, and claims that it unfairly singled out Muslims.
The American Civil Liberties Union cheered the decision on Tuesday.
"For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair No Fly List procedures, and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court," ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi, one of the attorneys who argued the case, said in a statement.
"This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the No Fly List, with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardship. We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watch-list system, which has swept up so many innocent people," Shamsi said.