Supreme Court remands Ashcroft immunity case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 in Ashcroft v. Iqbal [JURIST report] that a complaint filed against former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profiles] and other officials by a terrorism suspect failed to adequately state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 [text] and the Court's 2007 decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report]. Pakistani national Javaid Iqbal, captured during a terrorism "sweep," alleged mistreatment by the FBI based on religious and ethnic bias during his detention in a Brooklyn maximum security jail, and that Ashcroft and Meuller became complicit in the discrimination when they approved the policy that resulted in his detention.

Without ruling on the substance of the allegations, the Court remanded the case to the Second Circuit Court of appeals [official website] so that it may decide whether to allow Iqbal an opportunity to amend his complaint. The Court also declined to rule on Ashcroft and Mueller's assertion of qualified immunity, except to note that the denial of a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity "can fall within the narrow class of appealable orders despite 'the absence of a final judgment'" and that the Second Circuit therefore had proper interlocutory jurisdiction over the case. Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court. Souter, joined by Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, dissented.



 

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