Narrow Ruling on Material Witness Law

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In his opinion for the Court finding that former Attorney General John Ashcroft could not be sued for improper use of the material witness law in the detention of Abudulla al-Kidd, onetime University of Idaho football star, born Lavoni T. Kidd, Justice Scalia wrote :

“Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions, when properly applied it protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.

“Ashcroft deserves neither label.”

In a unanimous decision the Justices did not rule on the Fourth Amendment issue of unreasonable search and seizure, an area that acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal barely touched on during oral arguments in March.

The case is Ashcroft v. al-Kidd.

Lyle Denniston’s take on SCOTUSblog is here.

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Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , ,

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