It’s hard to imagine a less meritorious suit than the discrimination charge brought by the six flying imams against U.S. Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission in federal court in Minneapolis. The lawsuit is a CAIR production. Having spoken at the imams’ convention that brought the imams to town, Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison is off in the wings. The lawsuit has all the earmarks of a set-up.
It is therefore somewhat disappointing to learn that Judge Montgomery has denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit for failure to state a claim. Dan Browning reports:
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery published a 41-page opinion and order Tuesday rejecting almost all of the defendants’ arguments for dismissal thus far.
Montgomery said the question of whether airport officers had probable cause to arrest the men must be determined by the objective facts they had available to them at the time.
According to a police report, the men were arrested because three had one-way tickets and no checked baggage; most had requested seat belt extensions; a passenger reported that they had prayed “very loudly” before the flight and criticized U.S. involvement with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and they were seated widely throughout the aircraft.
Montgomery said it is “dubious” that a reasonable person would conclude from those facts that the imams were about to interfere with the crew or aircraft. She said the plaintiffs had stated a plausible claim that MAC officers violated their constitutional rights.
Judge Montgomer’s order means only that, assuming all the facts alleged in the plaintiffs’ complaint to be true, the complaint states a claim on which relief can be granted. It is the lowest threshold any lawsuit must meet. So Judge Montgomer’s order means only that the case will proceed to discovery and the development of a full factual record.
However disappointing Judge Montgomery’s order, I think it is good that we will learn the facts behind plaintiffs’ lawsuit. The highly capable lawyer representing the Metropolitan Airports Commission is my friend and former law partner Tim Schupp; he will leave no stone unturned on behalf of the MAC. I think it is safe to say that the case of the flying imams one in which the truth should be known, and in which the truth will set us free.