[Iqbal's] only factual allegation against [John Ashcroft, the former Attorney General of the United States, and Robert Mueller, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation] accuses them of adopting a policy approving “restrictive conditions of confinement” for post-September-11 detainees until they were “ ‘cleared’ by the FBI.” Accepting the truth of that allegation, the complaint does not show, or even intimate, that petitioners purposefully housed detainees in the ADMAX SHU due to their race, religion, or national origin. All it plausibly suggests is that the Nation’s top law enforcement officers, in the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack, sought to keep suspected terrorists in the most secure conditions available until the suspects could be cleared of terrorist activity. Respondent does not argue, nor can he, that such a motive would violate petitioners’ constitutional obligations. He would need to allege more by way of factual content to “nudg[e]” his claim of purposeful discrimination “across the line from conceivable to plausible.”
May 18, 2009
Knowledge of disparate impact on Arab Muslims is not the same as intent to discriminate against them.
Justice Kennedy writes for the majority in a 5-4 decision, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, announced today: