Sikh Coalition Argues that FBI Must Be Held Accountable for Unlawful Actions

December 29, 2023
Sikh Coalition | First Liberty Insider

by Jorge Gomez • 3 min read

First Liberty recently filed a friend-of-the-court brief at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Sikh Coalition, the country’s largest community- based civil rights organization working to protect Sikh Americans. Their mission is to help Sikhs and other religious minorities freely practice their faith without bias and discrimination.

The brief relates to Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fikre, a case involving a Muslim resident from Portland who challenged his placement on the “No Fly List,” the database containing the identity information of known or suspected terrorists.

The government removed him from the “No Fly List” and is seeking to have the Court find the claim moot. This would allow the government to avoid an adverse judgment.

How will this case impact religious freedom? In many of First Liberty’s cases, the government tends to stop discriminatory and illegal actions against religious Americans when litigation is underway. However, our clients often face government attempts to moot, or end, their cases prematurely, which means government could evade responsibility for its unlawful actions. It also leaves the door open for the government to resume discriminatory actions after the case ends.

Our brief explains:

“First Liberty and the Sikh Coalition maintain an interest in protecting their clients’ ability to seek full relief against religious discrimination— especially religious discrimination by the government. This includes declaratory and injunctive relief putting an end to such discrimination. But very often, the government will cease its conduct once litigation has begun and then seek dismissal due to mootness as an attempt to evade responsibility for its unlawful actions, while maintaining the option in the future to return to the conduct once the litigation ends.”

We also argue that government should be held accountable for trampling on American’s constitutional rights, including religious freedom. We ask the Court to make it clear that government must show it won’t carry out discrimination in the future.

A favorable ruling for the Muslim plaintiff in Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fikre would help First Liberty seek complete justice for our clients and Americans of all faiths.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on January 8, 2024.

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