Supreme Court Argument In Case On Muslim Round-Ups

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Above Photo: REUTERS/Molly Riley

In the shadow of the Trump inauguration this Friday, CCR will be before the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case about executive abuses of power that is frighteningly relevant at the dawn of the Trump era. Ziglar v. Abassi (formerly Turkmen v. Ashcroft) seeks to hold high-level Bush administration officials, including John Ashcroft, accountable for their role in the round up, detention, and abuse of Muslim non-citizens after 9/11.

After 9/11, more than 700 men were rounded up and imprisoned for months, dozens in brutal conditions, based on nothing more than their race or religion. They came to the attention of the FBI through citizen reports about such things as “Arabs” working long hours or “Middle Eastern” men renting post office boxes. Despite the clearly discriminatory nature of such tips, and though the Bush officials knew there was no reason beyond the men’s religion and ethnicity to suspect them of wrongdoing, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered that everyone arrested as a result be held as a suspected terrorist until cleared by the FBI.

None of the men were ever found to have any connection to terrorism.

At issue in Abassi is whether high-level government officials who create and implement clearly unconstitutional polices should be shielded from liability – an issue of renewed, critical urgency in light of Trump’s bullying, bigotry, and disregard for both the law and the truth. He has vowed to implement a host of abusive policies, from Muslim profiling and immigration deportation to the resumption of torture and the expansion of Guantánamo.

It is crucial that the Supreme Court make clear, through Abassi, that no government officials, including top officials, can violate the Constitution with impunity.

The former wardens and other officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City who oversaw the abuse are also defendants in the case.

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