The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to take up three consolidated cases concerning a civil rights lawsuit filed in 2002 against high-ranking federal officials — including former Attorney General John Ashcroft — by non-citizens who were arrested for immigration violations after 9/11.
In the wake of 9/11 the FBI dedicated more than 4,000 special agents to arrest and detain 762 aliens on charges that they had violated federal immigration laws.
In court papers, the government argues that “in light of their immigration status, it was undisputedly lawful to arrest and detain them pending their removal.”
But the class of about 80 Muslim, South Asian and Arab individuals who were held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn argue that the officials lacked any kind of individualized information that they were dangerous. They claim that it violated their due process rights to hold them in ultra restrictive conditions.
“Respondents do not challenge their detention,” Jeffrey A. Lamken argues on their behalf in court papers. Instead, he says they challenge “their highly restrictive confinement conditions” that were inappropriate because they had no genuine terrorism connections.
In the one-page order the court noted that only six justices would hear the case as Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan are recused.
A federal appeals court held that the claims could proceed against Ashcroft and others.