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Homeland Security

Supreme Court to Hear 9/11 Detainee Suit Against US Officials

By VOA News October 11, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether Muslims and other immigrants held for months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States can sue former Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials.

Senior Bush administration officials, including former FBI Director Robert Mueller and Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar, have asked the justices to reverse a 2015 lower court ruling allowing the long-running suit to proceed.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of Muslim, Arab and South Asian non-U.S. citizens who, their lawyers say, were held as terrorism suspects based on their race, religion, ethnicity and immigration status and abused in detention before being deported.

Two of the justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, have recused themselves, meaning only six justices will hear the case. The court remains one justice short following Antonin Scalia's February death.

Justices do not have to say why they recuse themselves from cases. But Sotomayor sat on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit during an earlier version of the case, while Kagan was U.S. solicitor general during its initial prosecution.

The U.S. officials will be represented by the Justice Department, which argues that there is no evidence they personally condoned any potential unconstitutional actions.

The court will rule by the end of June.

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