Ibrahim v. DHS

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 02-08-2012
  • Case #: 10-15873
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges D. Nelson; District Judge Duffy dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

Although the plaintiff was a citizen of Malaysia, and not a U.S. citizen, she has established a significant voluntary connection with the United States as a Ph.D. student, which would allow for her to bring constitutional claims in United States courts.

Rahinah Ibrahim was a citizen of Malaysia and mother of four children who was legally in the United States as a Ph.D. student from 2001-2005. In 2005, she attempted to go to a school-sponsored conference but was prevented from flying and detained at the San Francisco airport. After being allowed to fly to Malaysia, she was unable to return to the U.S. and has since been unable to return to the U.S. Ibrahim brought a suit asserting § 1983 claims and state-law tort claims for injunctive relief in the federal district court seeking to have her name removed from the government watchlist. The district court denied injunctive relief under 49 U.S.C. § 4611(a), which vests exclusive original jurisdiction in the courts of appeals over suits challenging security orders issued by TSA. In a previous Ninth Circuit appeal, the Court determined that § 4611(a) does not bar district court jurisdiction over her challenges related to her watchlist claim, but that it required her challenges related to her TSA policies and procedures to be filed directly with the court of appeals. After remand, Ibrahim filed a second complaint asserting that her First amendment and Fifth Amendment rights were violated and that the federal defendants violated the APA. Ibrahim's second complaint was dismissed. She appealed to the Ninth Circuit to determine if this decision was proper. The Ninth Circuit determined under Boumediene and Verdugo, that Ibrahim had a significant voluntary connection with the U.S. through her four years as a Ph.D. student at Stanford University and that she has the right to assert constitutional claims, but did not determine the validity of her claims. REVERSED in part, AFFIRMED in part, and VACATED in part. REMANDED for further proceedings.

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