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CAIR Files SCOTUS Brief Supporting Right to Bring Constitutional Claims in Federal Courts

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/1/20) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization — along with Institute of Free Speech today announced the filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Rentberry v. City of Seattle (Case No. 19-35308).  

That case will determine in part whether civil liberties claims implicitly include nominal damages for prospective relief.  

The Rentberry amicus brief discusses several cases CAIR lawyers have worked on in which speech-based and religious freedoms were violated by the government but are an uphill battle to redress in court—whether due to the temporariness of the violation or the voluntary cessation of defendants.  

These cases often get thrown out for being moot (lost practical significance). In Texas, a federal court said Texas’ anti-BDS law was unconstitutional, but days after the court’s opinion, the state legislature amended the law and moved to dismiss the case and vacate the judgment and was successful. SEE: Amawi v. Pflugerville Independent School District.  

Many clients CAIR represents have had their rights violated because the federal government does not share who it puts on a terror watchlist — and has attempted to dismiss their cases as moot after taking them off those lists once they file suit. SEE: LongElhady, and Fikre.  

“Fundamental to any court process is providing an avenue for litigants to redress their claims for damages,” said CAIR Civil Rights Director Lena Masri. “Whether you’re incarcerated, a speech pathologist or a traveler, if your civil rights are violated, those claims should be redressed in court.”  

“An individual’s meritorious claim that their government violated their constitutional rights is increasingly difficult to bring in court,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Ankur Sakaria. “These claims ought to be more immune from procedural defenses that insulate and further exacerbate the evident power imbalance at play.”  

CAIR’s Amicus Brief in Rentberry v. City of Seattle (Case No. 19-35308) can be found here.  

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. 

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.       

END 

CONTACT:  

CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, lmasri@cair.com;  

CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com;  

CAIR Staff Attorney Ankur Sakaria, 202-516-4724, asakaria@cair.com 

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