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Ashcroft v. Iqbal

Docket No.: 07-1015
Certiorari Granted: Jun 16 2008
Argued: December 10, 2008
Decided: May 18, 2009

PartyNames: John D. Ashcroft, former Attorney General, et al., Petitioners v. Javaid Iqbal, et al.
Petitioner: John Ashcroft, Former Attorney General, et al.
Respondent: Javaid Iqbal, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

John Ashcroft, Former Attorney General, et al.
Javaid Iqbal, et al.
Question Presented:

1. Whether a conclusory allegation that a cabinet- level officer or other high-ranking official knew of, condoned, or agreed to subject a plaintiff to allegedly unconstitutional acts purportedly committed by subordinate officials is sufficient to state individual-capacity claims against those officials under Bivens. 2. Whether a cabinet-level officer or other high-ranking official may be held personally liable for the allegedly unconstitutional acts of subordinate officials on the ground that, as high-level supervisors, they had constructive notice of the discrimination allegedly carried out by such subordinate officials.


1) Are governmental officers acting in their official capacities protected by the defense of qualified immunity in a claim brought by a former prison inmate, arrested in the immediate aftermath of September 11, alleging gross treatment and violations of his constitutional rights while confined? 2) Are conclusory allegations that high-ranking government officers knew of or condoned allegedly unconstitutional acts by subordinate officials sufficient to state a claim for unlawful discrimination?

Holding: reversed and remanded
Vote: 5-4
Opinion By: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Read ASHCROFT V. IQBAL opinion (PDF)