An Albany Law School professor, alumnus, and two students recently submitted an amicus brief in the ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case of Ashcroft and Mueller v. Iqbal. In the brief, Professor Ray Brescia, John Higgins '89, Umair Khan '09, and Rob Magee '09 argue that a decision in favor of the petitioners would adversely affect the ability of future civil rights plaintiffs to challenge constitutional violations in federal court.
The plaintiff in this particular case, Javaid Iqbal, is a Pakistani citizen of Muslim faith who was detained in the months following Sept. 11 but never charged with any crimes related to terrorism. Iqbal seeks to hold those he alleges are responsible, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller, for implementing and approving of the policies that resulted in his mistreatment and unconstitutional detainment. The defendants in the case, alternatively, seek to place Iqbal's treatment beyond the reach of the federal courts and assert that it was justified in the name of national security.
Brescia, Higgins, Khan, and Magee argue, in support of Iqbal, that the argument that the petitioners are immune from trial would create a de facto absolute immunity from suit for high-level government officials who engage in conduct violating clearly established law. Further, they argue that a Supreme Court decision in favor of the petitioners would have long-lasting implications and significantly hinder many plaintiffs from seeking redress in federal court for a variety of constitutional violations.
The brief was submitted on behalf of the Japanese American Citizens League, Pakistani Public Affairs Committee, Muslim Advocates, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.