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High court refuses to hear racial profiling case

Jose Cerqueira had sued American Airlines for discrimination after being removed from a flight in 2003.

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The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of a man who was kicked off an American Airlines jetliner in Boston because a flight attendant thought he looked like a Middle Eastern terrorist.

John Cerqueira is an American citizen of Portuguese heritage who was trying to fly home to Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 28, 2003. Instead, he was escorted off the jetliner and questioned by police for two hours because American Airlines personnel thought his dark hair and olive complexion made him look Middle Eastern.

When police realized the mistake, they reported back that Mr. Cerqueira was cleared to travel. But American refused to issue him a ticket on any of its flights.

Cerqueira sued American Airlines for discrimination and won. An appeals court in Boston reversed that decision.

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would not examine the case. The justices offered no explanation for their decision. The action means the appeals court ruling throwing out Cerqueira's case remains undisturbed.

At issue in the unusual case was a little-known law that authorizes air carriers to refuse to transport any passenger for safety reasons.

Cerqueira's lawyers say the appeals court decision against their client is a judicial endorsement of discrimination and racial profiling.

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