A Supreme Court ruling on the conduct of intelligence officials working under the George W. Bush administration was released on Monday. The ruling states that former terror suspects who believe their rights to due process were violated cannot sue the former officials under Bush.
The named intelligence officials included former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Both were part of the investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Six undocumented people of Arab and South Asian descent arrested on suspicion of involvement in the infamous terror plot believe U.S. officials deprived them of their right to due process and equal protection under the law. They claim they were placed in cruel and unusual solitary confinement and were submitted to practices bordering on torture.
The justices noted the heinousness of the acts committed on the men, but ruled in a 4-2 decision they cannot move forward in any legal action without congressional authorization.
Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the opinion:
“If the facts alleged in the complaint are true, then what happened to respondents in the days following September 11 was tragic. Nothing in this opinion should be read to condone the treatment to which they contend they were subjected. The question before the Court, however, is not whether petitioners’ alleged conduct was proper, nor whether it gave decent respect to respondents’ dignity and well-being, nor whether it was in keeping with the idea of the rule of law that must inspire us even in times of crisis.”
The dissent was lengthy, given by Justice Stephen Breyer alongside Justice Ginsburg:
“History tells us of far too many instances where the Executive or Legislative Branch took actions during time of war that, on later examination, turned out unnecessarily and unreasonably to have deprived American citizens of basic constitutional rights.”
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