Immediatelyfollowing the 9/11 attacks, the U.
S. government responded by authorizingfederal officials to conduct sweeps inwhich they sought after and detained immigrants that were in the U.S.illegally. Having suspicions that individuals could have ties to terrorism, FBIand immigration officials detained hundreds of men, mainly from Middle Easterncountries. These detainees were held in the Metropolitan Detention Center, inwhich they endured lots of mistreatment. Detainees claimed that they werebeaten, strip-searched, and often held in isolation with no access tocommunicate with family members or lawyers.
This harsh treatment lasted formonths. After finally being released, several detainees filed a lawsuit againsta group of federal officials: former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft,former FBI director Robert Mueller, and James Ziglar, a former commissioner ofthe Immigration and Naturalization Service, along with Warden Hasty andnumerous guards of the Metropolitan Detention Center (Howe, 2017). Thedetainees claimed that the federal officials knew that the detainees did nothave any ties to terrorism but still held them in “unnecessary and punitiveconditions of confinement” solelybecause of their race or religion (Howe, 2017).
The detainees brought into playBivens claims and alleged that their constitutional rights, specifically theirFirst, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights were violated.Rule In Ziglar v. Abbasi, the SupremeCourt held that illegal immigrants arrested in the immediate aftermath of the9/11 terrorist attacks could not maintain a Bivens claim, which allows forindividuals to file lawsuits against federal officials for damages arising froman unconstitutional search. The Supreme Court asserted that if a new claim isintroduced in regards to Bivens, then there ought to be some “special factors”that makes it more reasonable for the Supreme Court to determine whether or not there is a newcause of action than Congress.
The Supreme Court also asserted that since theBivens ruling in 1971, there has only been two instances in which The SupremeCourt extended a damages remedy – a 1979 case claiming a Fifth Amendment genderdiscrimination and a 1980 case claiming an Eight Amendment Cruel and UnusualPunishments Clause violation (Ziglar v. Abbasi, 2017). Moreover, the SupremeCourt stated that the allegations regarding the government’s detention policyintroduced new circumstances that were not similar to usual Bivens claims. As aresult, the claimed damages did not include a special element requiringjudicial intervention, instead the circumstances deal with national securitydecisions by officials of the Executive Branch. The Supreme Court went on toexplain that alternative assistance was available to the detainees through awrit of Habeas corpus.
Otherwise, the detainees had no legal grounds to file alawsuit against the federal officials. As it pertains to the claims filedagainst Warden Hasty of the Metropolitan Detention Center, the Supreme Courtasserted that the claims filed by the detainees regarding the abuse theyendured were also in a new context to Bivens because prior Bivens claimsregarding prison abuse dealt with violations of the Eighth Amendment, while theclaims from the detainees were under the Fifth Amendment. Admitting that, ifthe accusations were truthful, the way the detainees were treated wasunfortunate, the Supreme Court however sent majority of the detainees’ claimsback to lower-level courts for further deliberation. Ultimately, the SupremeCourt granted each of the government officials “qualified immunity”(Ziglar v.Abbasi, 2017). Analysis The Ziglar v. Abbasi case is apeculiar case in that the Supreme Court did not see it fit to expand the Bivensclaims past the specific traditional and legal situations and circumstances.
Inan attempt to analyze the case, one must consider the implications of a casebeing “different in a meaningful way” (Ziglar v. Abbasi, 2017). No case will beexactly the same to another, but that does not mean that a case cannot be usedin support of a future case. “Different in a meaningful way” can mean whatconstitutional right is being violated, the risk of affecting other branches ofthe governments and their functionality, and even the “rank of the officersinvolved”(Ziglar v. Abbasi, 2017). Nonetheless, the Ziglar v.
Abbasi introduceda new aspect with regards to the Bivens claims and therefore should have beenapproached in a more willing manner in order to address the issue. As observedwith both expansions of the Bivens claims in 1979 and 1980, when a claimintroduced a new element, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held them in anew context which led to a special factors analysis being conducted. The Courtof Appeals should have done the same in the Ziglar v. Abbasi case, which couldhave tailored the plaintiffs’ argument to be more suitable because the Bivens claims are not proper forquestioning a policy decision or requiring “an inquiry into sensitive issues ofnational security”(Ziglar v. Abbasi, 2017). While majority of the individualsdetained in these sweeps were illegal immigrants who had overstayed theirvisas, they still reserved the right to file a lawsuit against others who mayhave violated their rights as stated in the Equal Protection Clause. Moreover, the Supreme Court accusedthe Court of Appeals of making a legal error against Ziglar because it shouldhave dismissed the federal statute, 42 U.S.
C. 1985(3), which “forbids certainconspiracies” to deprive any person or group of equal protection, on the basisqualified immunity. Under qualified immunity, a government official cannot beheld accountable if there is not clear evidence to prove that the individualacted unconstitutionally. The Supreme Court furthers its stance by stating thatconspiracy claims must “allege agreement between parties” and since this casefailed to do so, the Supreme Court could reject the 42 U.
S.C. 1985(3) claimsotherwise, the lawsuits could possibly affect relationships within theexecutive branch (Ziglar v.
Abbasi, 2017). This assertion clearly ignores humanrights violations. Although there was no clear evidence, there wasevidence that suggested the plaintiffs were mistreated, therefore the guardsand Warden Hasty, at the very least, should have been held accountable fortheir actions. However, this assertion makes it difficult for a prisoner toclaim they were abused by these individuals even if these individuals arethe prison officials that are directly responsible for the conditions ofthe plaintiffs’ standard of living.
Conclusion Inconclusion, the Ziglar v. Abbasi case is special in that it introduced a topicthat the Supreme Court had never encountered. Considering the Supreme Court’sunwillingness to expand Bivens claims beyond the traditional and usualsituations, future lawsuits for damages are put at risk.
In contemporarysociety, there are still attempts by the federal government to mitigate thepossibility of terrorist infiltration. For example, the travel ban proposed bythe Trump administration proves that there is still fear of the unknown. Fearis a driving factor behind human behavior, and while ordinances may beestablished that align with the constitution and are fair, fear allows humansto enforce these laws in any way they see fit.
That being said, theimplications of Ziglar v. Abbasi as it pertains to future instances whenindividuals seek to file a suit for unconstitutional conduct by federal officialsis that there will likely not be any judicial relief unless the claim is madewhile one is still enduring mistreatment.