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Arar v. Ashcroft


Jan 14, 2022

Arar v. Ashcroft, 585 F.3d 559 (2d. Cir. 2009),[1] was a lawsuit brought by Maher Arar against the United States and various U.S. officials pursuant to the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA),[2] and the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed Arar’s complaint due to lack of personal jurisdiction and national security and foreign policy considerations.[3] This ruling was ultimately upheld by a divided en banc panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[1]

American legal case
Arar v. Ashcroft
Court United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Full case name Maher ARAR v. John ASHCROFT, formerly Attorney General of the United States; Larry D. Thompson, formerly Acting Deputy Attorney General; Tom Ridge, formerly Secretary for Homeland Security; James W. Ziglar, formerly Commissioner for Immigration and Naturalization Services; J. Scott Blackman, formerly Regional Director of the Eastern Regional Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Paula Corrigan, Regional Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Edward J. McElroy, formerly District Director of Immigration and Naturalization Services for New York District and now District Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Robert Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and John Does 1-10, Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or Immigration and Naturalization Service Agents, Defendants.
Argued November 9, 2007
Reargued December 9, 2008
Decided November 2, 2009
Citation(s) Panel: 532 F.3d157
En banc: 585 F.3d559
Case history
Prior history 414 F. Supp. 2d250 (E.D.N.Y. 2006)
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting En banc:Dennis Jacobs, Joseph M. McLaughlin, Guido Calabresi, José A. Cabranes, Rosemary S. Pooler, Robert D. Sack, Sonia Sotomayor, Barrington Daniels Parker Jr., Reena Raggi, Richard C. Wesley, Peter W. Hall, Debra Ann Livingston
Case opinions
Majority Jacobs, joined by McLaughlin, Cabranes, Raggi, Wesley, Hall, Livingston
Dissent Sack, joined by Calabresi, Pooler, Parker
Dissent Parker, joined by Calabresi, Pooler, Sack
Dissent Pooler, joined by Calabresi, Sack, Parker
Dissent Calabresi, joined by Pooler, Sack, Parker

. . . Arar v. Ashcroft . . .

Maher Arar was a Canadian citizen who was deported to Syria by the U.S. government. In Syria, he was tortured, forced to falsely confess, and released after one year without being charged.

Arar sought a declaratory judgment that defendants’ conduct violated his “constitutional, civil, and international human rights,” as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the statutory and constitutional violations.[4]

In January 2004, Arar announced that he would be suing then-American Attorney-GeneralJohn Ashcroft over his treatment.[5]

The Center for Constitutional Rights brought the suit Arar v. Ashcroft against former Attorney General John Ashcroft, then-FBI DirectorRobert Mueller, and then-Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, as well as numerous U.S. immigration officials including Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James W. Ziglar. It charged the defendants violated Arar’s constitutional right to due process; his right to choose a country of removal other than one in which he would be tortured, as guaranteed under the Torture Victims Protection Act; and his rights under international law.[6]

The suit charged that Arar’s Fifth Amendment due process rights were violated when he was confined without access to an attorney or the court system, both domestically before being rendered, and while detained by the Syrian government, whose actions were complicit with the U.S. Additionally, the Attorney General and INS officials who carried out his deportation also likely violated his right to due process by recklessly subjecting him to torture at the hands of a foreign government that they had every reason to believe would carry out abusive interrogation.

Further, Arar filed a claim under the Torture Victims Protection Act, adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1992, which allows a victim of torture by an individual of a foreign government to bring suit against that actor in U.S. Court. Arar’s claim under the Act against Ashcroft and the INS directors was based upon their complicity in bringing about the torture he suffered. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

In its denial of Arar’s petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court upheld the 2nd Circuit’s en banc dismissal the case against the named defendants.[7]

. . . Arar v. Ashcroft . . .

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. . . Arar v. Ashcroft . . .