Sat, Jun 19, 2004
Legal challenge by ALPA and
other airline unions successful
In a victory for airline pilots, the government has acknowledged
that regulations it had issued in January 2003 allowing it to
revoke the licenses of pilots suspected of being security threats
cannot be lawfully enforced.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and other airline unions
had challenged the regulations as unfair and inconsistent with due
process, because they permitted a pilot's license to be revoked on
mere suspicion that the pilot was a security threat. The challenged
regulations did not allow the pilot to have a timely hearing at
which the revocation could be contested.
ALPA and the other airline unions brought suit in the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia to nullify the regulations.
ALPA also brought its concerns to Congress, which enacted new and
fairer procedures while the lawsuit was pending. Nevertheless, it
was still not clear that the government had abandoned the
challenged regulations. However, as the litigation progressed and
pressed by the judges at oral argument, the government ultimately
informed the Court that enforcing the challenged regulations would
now be unlawful and that the Federal Aviation Administration and
the Transportation Security Administration promised "never to
enforce the rules."
In a decision issued on
June 11, 2004, the Court relied on these representations in stating
that "the challenged rules are now devoid of any legal effect."
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the lawsuit because, in light of
the government's acknowledgement, the validity of the regulations
was no longer in issue.
"We are quite pleased with the outcome," said Captain Duane E.
Woerth, president of ALPA. "The 'guilty until proven innocent'
attitude toward U.S. pilots that was embodied in the regulations,
and which the government has now been forced to abandon, is simply
unacceptable. Guaranteeing due process under the law is a
cornerstone of our country's legal system," Woerth said.
Woerth noted that "pilots would not have achieved this
satisfactory final result without ALPA's tenacious and effective
pursuit of both legislative and judicial remedies. We look forward
to both the FAA and TSA issuing rules that truly protect pilots and
people who fly."
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