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Ziglar v. Abbasi

Supreme Court of the United States

January 18, 2017, Argued; June 19, 2017, Decided1

Nos. 15-1358, 15-1359, 15-1363.


 [*1851]  Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IV-B.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks in this country, and in response to the deaths, destruction, [***11]  and dangers they caused, the United States Government ordered hundreds of illegal aliens to be taken into custody and held. Pending a determination whether a particular detainee had connections to terrorism, the custody, under harsh conditions to be described, continued. In many instances custody lasted for days and weeks, then stretching into months. Later, some of the aliens who had been detained filed suit, leading to the cases now before the Court.

The complaint named as defendants three high executive officers in the Department of Justice and two of the wardens at the facility where the detainees had been held. Most of the claims, alleging various constitutional violations, sought damages  [*1852]  under the implied cause of action theory adopted by this Court in Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971). Another claim in the complaint was based upon the statutory cause of action authorized and created by Congress under Rev. Stat.  [**303]  §1980, 42 U. S. C. §1985(3). This statutory cause of action allows damages to persons injured by conspiracies to deprive them of the equal protection of the laws.

The suit was commenced in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. After this Court’s decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U. S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009), a fourth amended complaint was filed; [***12]  and that is the complaint to be considered here. Motions to dismiss the fourth amended complaint were denied as to some defendants and granted as to others. These rulings were the subject of interlocutory appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Over a dissenting opinion by Judge Raggi with respect to the decision of the three-judge panel—and a second unsigned dissent from the court’s declining to rehear the suit en banc, joined by Judge Raggi and five other judges—the Court of Appeals ruled that the complaint was sufficient for the action to proceed against the named officials who are now before us. See Turkmen v. Hasty, 789 F. 3d 218 (2015) (panel decision); Turkmen v. Hasty, 808 F. 3d 197 (2015) (en banc decision).

The Court granted certiorari to consider these rulings. 580 U. S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 292, 196 L. Ed. 2d 211 (2016). The officials who must defend the suit on the merits, under the ruling of the Court of Appeals, are the petitioners here. The former detainees who seek relief under the fourth amended complaint are the respondents. The various claims and theories advanced for recovery, and the grounds asserted for their dismissal as insufficient as a matter of law, will be addressed in turn.

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137 S. Ct. 1843 *; 198 L. Ed. 2d 290 **; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 3874 ***; 85 U.S.L.W. 4360; 26 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 655; 2017 WL 2621317

JAMES W. ZIGLAR, Petitioner (No. 15-1358) v. AHMER IQBAL ABBASI, et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Subsequent History: Magistrate's recommendation at Turkmen v. Ashcroft, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137492 (E.D.N.Y., Aug. 13, 2018)


Turkmen v. Hasty, 789 F.3d 218, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 10160 (2d Cir. N.Y., June 17, 2015)

Disposition: Reversed in part and vacated and remanded in part.


cases, damages, damages remedy, cause of action, qualified immunity, courts, rights, special factor, detainees, immunity, federal official, court of appeals, conditions, constitutional right, suits, constitutional violation, detention, conspiracy, remedies, confinement, detained, aliens, Fifth Amendment, reasons, guards, marks, allegations, quotation, Eighth Amendment, executive official

Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Implied Causes of Action, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Search & Seizure, The Presidency, Commander in Chief, Congressional Duties & Powers, War Powers Clause, Prisoner Rights, Medical Treatment, Conspiracy Against Rights, Elements, Immunity From Liability, Defenses