HAF has submitted an amicus (friend of the court) brief to the US Supreme Court in the civil rights case of FNU Tanzin, et al. v. Muhammad Tanvir, et al., as part of a coalition of civil rights and religious freedom organizations including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Men of Reform Judaism, Methodist Federation for Social Action, People For the American Way Foundation, Union for Reform Judaism, and Women of Reform Judaism.
In Tanzin v. Tanvir, three Muslim men were put on the federal No Fly List after they rebuffed FBI agents’ attempts to force them to spy on their local faith community, which the men held to be in contravention of their religious beliefs.
Although the three Muslim men were eventually removed from the No Fly List, they sued the FBI agents for the personal and financial harm they suffered as a result of the listing and for violating their religious freedom under a federal statute known as the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA).
RFRA effectively prevents the government from substantially burdening an individual’s free exercise of religion unless the government action furthers a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means to do so.
At issue before the Supreme Court is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act authorizes awards of money damages to plaintiffs whose religious rights under the statute have been violated by federal officials.
“This case will have important implications for the civil rights and relgious freedom of all Americans, whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jewish, or any other faith,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Managing Director. “If the Court does not allow plaintiffs to seek monetary damages against government officials for violations of religious freedom, it will allow the government to impinge upon individual religious liberty with impunity and prevent victims from obtaining any remedy for the serious personal and financial harms they face.”