On Wednesday the Supreme Court justices considered whether former attorney general John D. Ashcroft could be held personally liable for the detention of an American Muslim.
Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in 2003 and held as a material witness. But Kidd contends that he was not detained because he had information about terrorism. Instead, he says, he was detained as part of a plan approved by Ashcroft to sweep up Muslim men the government suspected but could not prove had ties to terrorism.
Ashcroft, President George W. Bush’s attorney general from 2001 to 2005, claims legal immunity from the lawsuit, and the Obama administration is defending him.
Kidd is a onetime University of Idaho football star, born Lavoni T. Kidd. He converted to Islam in college. He was arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003 as he was boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia, where he planned to study.
Kidd maintains that in his more than two weeks of detention, he was strip-searched, shackled, interrogated without an attorney present and treated as a terrorist.
The Supreme Court will again examine the government’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, agreeing Monday to consider whether former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be sued by a U.S. citizen who claims he was detained and treated as a terrorist.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that Ashcroft did not have immunity for the actions al-Kidd challenges and that the case should go forward to see whether al-Kidd can prove his case.
The court will review a ruling that said that Abdullah al-Kidd can press forward with his suit against Ashcroft. Al-Kidd, a one-time University of Idaho football star who converted to Islam, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003 as he was boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia, where he planned to study.
In 2009, the justices narrowly ruled for the former attorney general in a similar case. They dismissed allegations from a Pakistani man legally living in the United States that Ashcroft should be held responsible for his detainment after the terrorism attacks, when he says he was beaten and held in solitary confinement for five months without being charged.