By Ian Millhiser
Two stories can be told about Tanzin v. Tanvir, a major religious liberty case that the Supreme Court agreed to hear last Friday.
The first is the story of Muhammad Tanvir, the plaintiff at the heart of the case, and this first story is likely to inspire a great deal of sympathy among liberals. Tanvir says he was approached by two FBI agents who asked him “whether he had anything he ‘could share’ with the FBI about the American Muslim community.” After Tanvir told the agents that he did not wish to become an informant, those agents allegedly threatened him with deportation and placed him on the “No Fly List.”
Because of this treatment, Tanvir also claims that he was unable to fly to see his ailing mother in Pakistan, and that he had to quit a job as a long-haul trucker because he could no longer fly home to New York after a one-way delivery.
The core issue in Tanvir’s lawsuit is whether he may sue these FBI agents for money damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a federal law protecting religious liberty.
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