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Supreme Court Considers Detainee Rights, Maternity Leave Limits

The Supreme Court heard arguments in cases testing the rights of terror suspects to sue high-level administration officials and the limits of maternity leave in the workplace. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal recaps the day in the high court.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The justices today considered two cases involving the disparate issues of the war on terror and pregnancy discrimination. Here to walk us through both arguments is NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal.

    Marcia, thank you for being with us again.

  • MARCIA COYLE, National Law Journal:

    My pleasure, Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    First, the Iqbal case. Now, this is a case brought by the Pakistani immigrant who was picked up by police, by the feds after 9/11. Tell us about that one.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    That's correct. Mr. Iqbal was held in a detention facility in Brooklyn, New York. He first was arrested on non-terrorism-related charges, nonviolent federal criminal charges, was transferred to the Brooklyn detention facility which held suspects of high interest, deemed of high interest to the government, in its post-9/11 investigation.

    He was kept in solitary confinement for nearly six months. And he claimed that, while there, he suffered serious physical and verbal abuse.

    After he was released, he sued Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller. He — and others, actually, other government officials.

    He claimed that they violated constitutional rights by adopting and implementing a policy of confining people like himself in very harsh conditions solely because of their race, religion, or national origin.

    The government tried to get Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Mueller out of the lawsuit, but a lower court decided that the lawsuit could go forward because it felt that Mr. Iqbal had presented sufficient evidence that his claims were plausible and basically he could move to the next stage, which was to question government officials in order to get more evidence and information to prove his case.

    The government brought the appeal to the Supreme Court, which was heard today.