October 18, 2010
SCOTUS Cert Grant of Interest: Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd
The Supreme Court granted certiorari today in Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd (10-98), limited to questions 1 and 2:
(1) Whether a former government official is entitled to absolute immunity from a claim that he used the material witness statute as a “pretext” to preventatively detain terrorism suspects;
(2) Whether the former government official is entitled to qualified immunity from the pretext claim based on the conclusions that (a) the Fourth Amendment prohibits an officer from executing a valid material witness warrant with the subjective intent of conducting further investigation or preventively detaining the subject; and (b) this Fourth Amendment rule was clearly established at the time of the respondent’s arrest.
The Ninth Circuit’s decision below was one of the first appellate opinions to apply the Supreme Court’s pleading decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, and it garnered considerable attention at the time for that reason (see, e.g., here and here). It’s not clear how much of a role pleading standards will play in the questions the Court will decide in Al-Kidd.
SCOTUSblog’s case file is available here, which contains links to the lower court opinion and the cert-stage briefs.