In the movie Minority Report, Hollywood depicts a future Washington, D.C., in which people are arrested by a special police force called Precrime, based on predictions that they will commit murders in the future. These predictions are not based on science, but on near-infallible psychics. Precrime asks for deference from judges, and gets it.
The U.S. government’s reliance on “predictive judgments” to deprive Americans of their constitutionally protected liberties is no fiction. It’s now central to the government’s defense of its no-fly list.
The film’s preventive policing model achieves a form of perfect safety, which is appealing: The number of murders goes down to zero, terrible tragedies are averted, and the federal government considers implementing Precrime nationwide. Until things go horribly wrong. Even in Hollywood, there are major issues with a crime prevention system that presumes future guilt without the ability to prove innocence.
The U.S. government’s reliance on “predictive judgments” to deprive Americans of their constitutionally protected liberties is no fiction. It’s now central to the government’s defense of its no-fly list–a secretive watch list that bans people from flying to or from the United States or over American airspace–in a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Court filings show that the government is trying to predict whether people who have never been charged, let alone convicted, of any violent crime might nevertheless commit a violent terrorist act. Because the government predicts that our clients–all innocent U.S. citizens–might engage in violence at some unknown point in the future, it has grounded them indefinitely.