On March 2, the American Civil Liberties Union argued before the United States Supreme Court that former Attorney General John Ashcroft should be held responsible for the wrongful arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen under the material witness law. The ACLU brought the case against Ashcroft in 2005 on behalf of Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen who was improperly arrested and detained in 2003 as a material witness. The ACLU’s lawsuit charges that al-Kidd’s arrest was part of a pattern of pretextual material witness arrests that occurred after September 11, pursuant to a nationwide policy instituted by Ashcroft.

In a recent press release, Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case on behalf of al-Kidd, commented on the merits of the case.

In America, we don’t just arrest people and lock them up without probable cause to believe they violated the law. The government officials who turned that unlawful practice into official policy — in clear violation of the Constitution — must be held accountable.

Learn more about the case al-Kidd v. Ashcroft.