Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court is going to take up the case of Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd. While this case has not picked up a lot of press, the consequences of this case are significant for America.
Abdullah al-Kidd is a Muslim. He has sued John Ashcroft for civil rights violations. Suing government officials for “civil rights” violations is nothing new. It happens all the time. This time, however, al-Kidd, with the aid of, you guessed it, the American Civil Liberties Union, is suing Ashcroft personally.
When government officials are sued, they are usually sued in their official capacity. That means the lawsuit is against the office they hold, not against them. The significance of that is if the plaintiff is successful, only the government is liable for any damages, not the individual. In this case, the ACLU is helping al-Kidd sue Ashcroft personally, meaning that if he loses the case, he would have to pay any damages out of his pocket.
Al-Kidd was detained on a material witness warrant in 2003, as he was about to leave for Saudi Arabia. Material witness is a procedure by which a prosecutor can have someone detained and then forced to post bond, if they are a witness in a criminal case and the prosecution fears they will flee the jurisdiction and be unavailable for trial. In extreme cases, a material witness may even be jailed until a trial.
Al-Kidd’s name came up in a terrorist investigation in 2003. He was not charged in any case and it is not known if he was even a suspect. The FBI wanted to make sure he was available at the trial of another suspected terrorist and went to a federal judge and obtained a material witness warrant. Apparently, based on what has been made public, two FBI agents lied about certain facts to the judge and the judge may well have not granted the warrant had the judge been told the complete story.
Al-Kidd was detained for fifteen days before being released. His movements were restricted and he had to check in with federal officials on a regular basis. What he calls severe treatment sounds pretty much like standard treatment for anyone in federal custody.
Al-Kidd was never needed at trial and eventually released from the material witness conditions. He is now suing Ashcroft. Ashcroft is claiming prosecutorial immunity, which states that a prosecutor may not be sued for anything he does in his official capacity. There is no proof, at least none that has been made public, that Ashcroft had anything to do with Al-Kidd’s case, other than the fact he was the Attorney General at the time and made certain prosecutorial policies, which the ACLU did not like, since those policies were used to try and make America safe from terrorist attack.
The ACLU decided they would go after Ashcroft, personally. They are doing this to try and discourage conservatives from either going into high office or trying to be effective if they do.
If the court rules that Ashcroft can be sued personally, there are a couple of issues. First, the government foots the bill for Ashcroft if he is sued in his official capacity. The government may or may not continue to pay Ashcroft’s legal bills if the court rules he can be sued personally. And, if Ashcroft is ultimately found liable, he maybe bankrupted by the process.
This case is important for conservatives as this is yet another attempt by the left to keep conservatives out of government. In many ways, the left has tried to criminalize conservatism. This is yet another way to chill conservatism. Any American who thinks about serving his country in the fight against terrorism will certainly think twice before serving, if Ashcroft is stripped of his immunity. He or she will have to make the decision, if they go into high-level government service, whether they are willing to risk being bankrupted by some Marxist ACLU lawyer.
And it is worth noting, in the battle of terrorists against Americans, the ACLU has once again sided with the terrorists.
I think the fack that Ashcroft does not have any involvement in the case speaks volumes about the willingness of the ACLU to destroy anyone to make a point. Since Ashcroft was not involved he should come out on top and I hope that he does.
As for holding government employees accountable, there are processes in place for that. The people that need to learn accountablility and integrity are the elected and appointed.