George W. Bush

A three-judge panel on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a group of men held for months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks for immigration-related violations can indeed sue their federal captors – meaning, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and other law enforcement agents during the George W. Bush presidential years.

They ruling specifically states the foreigners can sue top government officials for wrongful racial profiling and other charges, the Hill reported.

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The men who filed the suit were all foreigners of Arab and South Asian descent who had overstayed their visas in America and were picked up after the terror attacks and held between three and eight months in New York and New Jersey. Then, feds said they were “suspected terrorists,” the Hill reported.

But the court disagreed with the government’s actions.

“We simply cannot conclude at this stage that concern for the safety of our nation justified the violation of the constitutional rights on which this nation was built,” said judges Rosemary Pooler and Richard Wesley, in their 109 decision. “The question at this stage of the litigation is whether the [eight arrested foreigners] have plausibly pleaded that [feds] exceeded the bounds of the Constitution in the wake of 9/11. We believe they have.”

The decision was split; Judge Reena Raggi said the courts didn’t have precedent to settle the matter.

“Congress, not the judiciary, is the appropriate branch to decide whether the detained aliens should be allowed to sue executive policymakers in their individual capacities for money damagers,” she wrote, the Hill reported.

The case, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, stemmed from a 2002 class action lawsuit against Ashcroft, then-FBI director Robert Mueller and various other federal agents. The ruling gives plaintiffs the legal right to go forward with their suit.

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