Senate Republicans urge DOJ to reject request for ‘no fly’ list for unruly passengers

Eight Republican senators are urging the Justice Department to reject a request to create a “no fly” list for unruly passengers, saying it “would seemingly equate them to terrorists.” 

In a letter dated Monday and addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the senators pointed to data from the Federal Aviation Administration that found most violations are related to a refusal to wear a face mask as required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and said there was “significant uncertainty around the efficacy of this mandate.” 

“Creating a federal ‘no-fly’ list for unruly passengers who are skeptical of this mandate would seemingly equate them to terrorists who seek to actively take the lives of Americans and perpetrate attacks on the homeland,” the senators wrote. “The TSA was created in the wake of 9/11 to protect Americans from future horrific attacks, not to regulate human behavior onboard flights.”

The Republican senators also expressed concerns that such a list could violate constitutional rights and that future “no fly” lists could be wielded for political purposes.

“If the airlines seek to have such a list created, they would be best served presenting that request before Congress rather than relying on a loose interpretation of a decades-old statute originally written to combat terrorism,” the senators wrote.

The Republicans who signed the letter include Sens. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Mike Lee (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Ted Cruz (Texas), John Hoeven (N.D.) and Rick Scott (Fla.).

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian wrote to Garland earlier this month and urged the Justice Department to consider a “no fly” list for unruly passengers. Airlines, including Delta, have been plagued by abrasive passengers who have violated coronavirus protocols and harassed flight crew members. 

“The Department of Justice is continuing to prioritize the investigations and prosecutions of those who engage in criminal behavior that threatens the safety of passengers, flight crews, and flight attendants,” Justice Department spokesman Joshua Stueve said in a statement to The Hill earlier this month following the letter. “We are fully committed to holding accountable those who violate federal law. We will be referring Delta‘s letter to appropriate departments.”

The Hill has reached out to Delta and the DOJ for comment.

Tags Cynthia Lummis Delta Air Lines DOJ James Lankford John Hoeven Kevin Cramer Marco Rubio Merrick Garland Merrick Garland Mike Lee no fly Ted Cruz

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