US Supreme Court to Hear Material Witness Case Ashcroft vs. al-Kidd

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 2 in Mr. Kidd’s lawsuit against John Ashcroft, who was President George W. Bush’s first attorney general. It is this term’s only major national security case, and it will give the court an opportunity to weigh in on an issue that has divided Western democracies: when may the government detain citizens it is unable to charge with a crime for fear they may engage in terrorism?

Al-Kidd has sued John Ashcroft under the Fourth Amendment for Ashcroft’s policy of using the material witness statute for purposes of national security detention. Ashcroft has denied that the Fourth Amendment was violated, and he has raised both qualified and absolute immunity defenses against liability. The case therefore raises two basic issues: First, whether using the material witness statue for national security reasons violates the Fourth Amendment; and Second, whether Ashcroft has immunity against liability.

NYT article here.
SCOTUS analysis here.

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