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Jarrar v. Harris, et al.

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: January 5, 2009

What's at Stake

In August 2007, the ACLU and NYCLU filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official and JetBlue Airways illegally discriminated against an American resident, Raed Jarrar, based solely on the Arabic message on his t-shirt and his ethnicity.

Summary

> T-Shirt: “We Will Not Be Silent”
(Logo on Jarrar’s t-shirt.)

JetBlue and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official, identified as “Inspector Harris,” would not let Raed Jarrar board his 2006 flight at John F. Kennedy Airport until he agreed to cover his t-shirt, which read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic script. Harris told Jarrar that it is impermissible to wear an Arabic shirt to an airport and equated it to a “person wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.'”

“It is a dangerous and slippery slope when we allow our government to take away a person’s rights because of his speech or ethnic background,” said Reginald Shuford, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “Racial profiling is illegal and ineffective and has no place in a democratic society.”

In a victory for the Constitution, in January 2009, two Transportation Security Authority (TSA) officials and JetBlue Airways paid Raed Jarrar $240,000 to settle charges that they illegally discriminated against him based on his ethnicity and the Arabic writing on his T-shirt.

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ACLU Client Raed Jarrar Sues Jetblue and TSA Officer
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<!– –><!– Photo courtesy of www.parkerstudio.com –>

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