Immediately the Metropolitan Detention Center, in which they

Immediately
following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government responded by
authorizing federal officials to conduct sweeps in which they sought
after and detained immigrants that were in the U.S. illegally. Having
suspicions that individuals could have ties to terrorism, FBI and
immigration officials detained hundreds of men, mainly from Middle
Eastern countries. These detainees were held in the Metropolitan
Detention Center, in which they endured lots of mistreatment.
Detainees claimed that they were beaten, strip-searched, and often
held in isolation with no access to communicate with family members
or lawyers. This harsh treatment lasted for months. After finally
being released,
several detainees filed a lawsuit against a group of federal
officials: former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft, former FBI
director Robert Mueller, and James Ziglar, a former commissioner of
the Immigration and Naturalization Service, along with Warden Hasty
and numerous guards of the Metropolitan Detention Center. The
detainees claimed that the federal officials knew that the detainees
did not have any ties to terrorism but still held them in
“unnecessary and punitive conditions of confinement” solely
because of their race or religion (Howe, 2017).
The detainees brought into play Bivens claims and alleged that their
constitutional rights, specifically their First, Fourth, and Fifth
Amendment rights were violated.
Rule
In
Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Supreme Court held that illegal immigrants
arrested in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
could not maintain a Bivens claim, which allows for individuals to
file lawsuits against federal officials for damages arising from an
unconstitutional search. The Supreme Court asserted that if
a new claim is introduced 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 new cause of action than Congress. The Supreme Court also
asserted that since the Bivens ruling in 1971, there has only been
two instances in which The Supreme Court extended a damages remedy –
a 1979 case claiming a Fifth Amendment gender discrimination and a
1980 case claiming an Eight Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishments
Clause violation (Ziglar v. Abbasi, 2017). Moreover, the Supreme
Court stated that the allegations regarding the government’s
detention policy introduced new circumstances that were not similar
to usual Bivens claims. As a result, the claimed damages did not
include a special element requiring judicial intervention, instead
the circumstances deal with national security decisions by officials
of the Executive Branch. The Supreme Court went on to explain that
alternative assistance was available to the detainees through a writ
of Habeas corpus.
Otherwise,
the detainees had no legal grounds to file a lawsuit against the
federal officials.
As
it pertains to the claims filed against Warden Hasty of the
Metropolitan Detention Center, the Supreme Court asserted that the
claims filed by the detainees regarding the abuse they endured were
also in a new context to Bivens because prior Bivens claims regarding
prison abuse dealt with violations of the Eighth Amendment, while the
claims from the detainees were under the Fifth Amendment. Admitting
that, if the accusations were truthful, the way the detainees were
treated was unfortunate, the Supreme Court however sent majority of
the detainees’ claims back to lower-level courts for further
deliberation. Ultimately, the Supreme Court granted each of the
government officials “qualified immunity”(Ziglar v. Abbasi,
2017).

Analysis

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The Ziglar
v. Abbasi case is a peculiar case in that the Supreme Court did not
see it fit to expand the Bivens claims past the specific traditional
and legal situations and circumstances. In an attempt to analyze the
case, one must consider the implications of a case being “different
in a meaningful way” (Ziglar
v. Abbasi, 2017). No case will be exactly the same to
another, but that does not mean that a case cannot be used in support
of a future case. “Different in a meaningful way” can mean what
constitutional right is being violated, the risk of affecting other
branches of the governments and their functionality, and even the
“rank of the officers involved”(Ziglar
v. Abbasi, 2017). Nonetheless, the Ziglar v. Abbasi
introduced a new aspect with regards to the Bivens claims and
therefore should have been approached in a more willing manner in
order to address the issue. As observed with both expansions of the
Bivens claims in 1979 and 1980, when a claim introduced a new
element, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held them in a new
context which led to a special factors analysis being conducted. The
Court of Appeals should have done the same in the Ziglar v. Abbasi
case, which could have tailored the plaintiffs’ argument to be more
suitable because the Bivens claims are not proper for questioning a
policy decision or requiring “an inquiry into sensitive issues of
national security”(Ziglar
v. Abbasi, 2017). While majority of the individuals
detained in these sweeps were illegal immigrants who had overstayed
their visas, they still reserved the right to file a
lawsuit against others who may have violated their rights as stated
in the Equal Protection Clause.

Moreover,
the Supreme Court accused the Court of Appeals of making a legal
error against Ziglar because it should have dismissed the federal
statute, 42 U.S.C. 1985(3), which “forbids certain conspiracies”
to deprive any person or group of equal protection, on the basis
qualified immunity. Under qualified immunity, a government official
cannot be held accountable if there is not clear evidence to prove
that the individual acted unconstitutionally. The Supreme Court
furthers its stance by stating that conspiracy claims must “allege
agreement between parties” and since this case failed to do so, the
Supreme Court could reject the 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) claims otherwise,
the lawsuits could possibly affect relationships within the executive
branch (Ziglar v. Abbasi, 2017). This assertion clearly ignores human
rights violations. Although there was no clear
evidence, there was evidence that suggested the plaintiffs were
mistreated, therefore the guards and Warden Hasty, at the very least,
should have been held accountable for their actions. However, this
assertion makes it difficult for a prisoner to claim they were abused
by these individuals even if these individuals are
the prison officials that are
directly responsible for the conditions of the plaintiffs’ standard
of living.
Conclusion
In
conclusion, the Ziglar v. Abbasi case is special in that it
introduced a topic that the Supreme Court had never encountered.
Considering the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to expand Bivens claims
beyond the traditional and usual situations, future lawsuits for
damages are put at risk. In contemporary society, there are still
attempts by the federal government to mitigate the possibility of
terrorist infiltration. For example, the travel ban proposed by the
Trump administration proves that there is still fear of the unknown.
Fear is a driving factor behind human behavior, and while ordinances
may be established that align with the constitution and are fair,
fear allows humans to enforce these laws in any way they see fit.
That being said, the implications of Ziglar v. Abbasi as it pertains
to future instances when individuals seek to file a suit for
unconstitutional conduct by federal officials is that there will
likely not be any judicial relief unless the claim is made while one
is still enduring mistreatment.

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