Oral argument: Dec. 10, 2008
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit (June 14, 2007)
PRISONER ABUSE, QUALIFIED IMMUNITY, PLEADING REQUIREMENTS, BIVENS, TWOMBLY, JURISDICTION
In the wake of September 11, 2001, Javaid Iqbal, a Muslim Pakistani living in New York, was arrested on a variety of federal fraud and conspiracy charges and detained in a maximum security facility. He alleges that during that detention he was subjected to a variety of treatments and conditions that violated his constitutional rights. After pleading guilty and being deported to Pakistan, Iqbal filed a civil complaint in federal court, based largely on Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, alleging twenty-one separate constitutional violations against a number of high-ranking federal officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft. In the district court, Ashcroft sought a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Iqbal’s claim did not contain sufficient factual allegations to overcome Ashcroft’s qualified immunity defense. The district court denied Ashcroft’s motion, and the circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine the proper pleading standards when a defendant in a Bivens action is a high-ranking government official.