District Court Dismisses Padilla's Civil Suit Against Various Government Officials

By Robert Chesney
Thursday, February 17, 2011, 12:30 PM

A very big win today for a collection of former government officials and military officers, as a district court dismissed all claims against them in a civil suit filed by Jose Padilla and his mother in connection with his former detention as an enemy combatant.

In brief, Judge Richard Gergel concluded that (i) no Bivens cause of action should be recognized in this context, (ii) defendants in any event are entitled to qualified immunity as to all of Padilla’s claims, and (iii) Padilla failed to allege facts sufficient to establish standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief precluding the possibility of a transfer back to military custody upon completion of his 17-year criminal sentence (on the theory that any such prospect was, as yet, too remote).   

Note, however, that a district court in California in 2009 reached a contrary conclusion in a suit by Padilla and his mother against John Yoo.   There clearly is much more to come....

UPDATE: Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Cully Stimson has this commentary in praise of the ruling.