Demand Justice for U.S. Citizen Subjected to Unlawful Detention and Torture

Target: United States Supreme Court

Goal: Review the ACLU’s case against officials who unlawfully detained and tortured José Padilla, who was convicted of aiding terrorists.

The US Supreme Court recently announced that it would not review the ACLU’s case against current and former US officials who contributed to the unlawful detention and torture of US citizen José Padilla in 2002. Padilla was detained for four years, two of which he was without the ability to contact his family or lawyers. He was shackled, threatened, forced into stress positions, denied sleep and medical care, and subjected to fumes and constant deafening noise. This is undoubtedly torture, which the Bush administration tried to justify by classifying prisoners as “enemy combatants,” even if they were US citizens.

Padilla’s lawsuit against Donald Rumsfield, former US Secretary of Defense, and other responsible officials was first dismissed by the District Court for the District of South Carolina in February of 2011, and when appealed, the dismissal was upheld. The ACLU asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the lawsuit in April of 2012, and now that the Supreme Court has refused, the outlook seems grim for Padilla and, in a broader context, US case law.

Ignoring the implications of this severe assault on Padilla’s rights could set a dangerous precedent of inaction and lack of accountability toward the executive branch’s crimes. According to Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer working on the case, “To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture regime has received his day in court. It is precisely the role of the courts to ensure that allegations of grave misconduct by executive Branch officials receive fair adjudication. That vital role does not evaporate simply because those officials insist that their actions are too sensitive for judicial review.”

Bringing US officials to justice is of paramount importance not only to give José Padilla closure, but more importantly, to prevent the US government from committing such extreme assaults on human rights. The Supreme Court needs to do its job by keeping the executive branch in check. Demand that the Supreme Court review Padilla’s case.


Dear United States Supreme Court Justices,

I was disappointed to hear that you have refused to hear the ACLU’s case against US officials responsible for the unlawful detention and torture of José Padilla. As the highest level of the judicial branch, it is your job to keep the executive branch in check, and declining to review this case constitutes a failure to do that job.

Without consequences for clear violations of the law, the US government has “a blank check … to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of an American citizen in an American prison,” according to Ben Wizner, the ACLU’s lead counsel on the case. Yes, the facts of this case are sensitive, but that should be an even greater reason to review it. Eschewing a necessary decision because it is unsavory is a short-sighted response that will only worsen the problem.

Please give Padilla justice and keep the executive branch in check by reviewing Padilla v. Rumfield.


[Your Name Here]

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