March 01, 2017

Blurred Lines: Security and Civil Rights at 40,000 Feet

Amna Arshad

Reprinted with permission from The Air & Space Lawyer, Winter 2016 (29:4). Copyright © 2016 American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

Imagine you are a passenger who has just boarded an aircraft. You’re an American, but you happen to be brown-skinned or otherwise “look” Muslim.1 You call a loved one on your cell phone, perhaps in your native tongue. Perhaps you say some prayers under your breath to try to calm your nerves. You may be traveling under extreme stress due to a personal situation and worried about not only the flight but also what awaits you when you land. Should you be concerned that any one of these simple acts or behaviors could lead to your ejection from your flight?

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