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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.
v.
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.

Question:

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)