Ashcroft v. al-Kidd , 563 U.S. 731 ( 2011 )


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  • (Slip Opinion)              OCTOBER TERM, 2010                                       1
    
                                           Syllabus
    
             NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
           being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
           The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
           prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
           See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 
    200 U.S. 321
    , 337.
    
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    
                                           Syllabus
    
                             ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
    CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
                      THE NINTH CIRCUIT
    
            No. 10–98. Argued March 2, 2011—Decided May 31, 2011
    Respondent al-Kidd alleges that, after the September 11th terrorist
      attacks, then-Attorney General Ashcroft authorized federal officials
      to detain terrorism suspects using the federal material-witness stat
      ute, 
    18 U.S. C
    . §3144. He claims that this pretextual detention pol
      icy led to his material-witness arrest as he was boarding a plane to
      Saudi Arabia. To secure the warrant, federal officials had told a
      Magistrate Judge that information “crucial” to Sami Omar al-
      Hussayen’s prosecution would be lost if al-Kidd boarded his flight.
      Prosecutors never called al-Kidd as a witness, and (as he alleges)
      never meant to do so. Al-Kidd filed suit pursuant to Bivens v. Six
      Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 
    403 U.S. 388
    , challenging the con
      stitutionality of Ashcroft’s alleged policy. The District Court denied
      Ashcroft’s motion to dismiss on absolute and qualified immunity
      grounds. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Fourth
      Amendment prohibits pretextual arrests absent probable cause of
      criminal wrongdoing, and that Ashcroft could not claim qualified or
      absolute immunity.
    Held:
        1. The objectively reasonable arrest and detention of a material
     witness pursuant to a validly obtained warrant cannot be challenged
     as unconstitutional on the basis of allegations that the arresting au
     thority had an improper motive. Pp. 3–9.
           (a) Qualified immunity shields a government official from money
     damages unless (1) the official violated a statutory or constitutional
     right, and (2) that right was “clearly established” at the time of the
     challenged conduct. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 
    457 U.S. 800
    , 818.
     Where, as here, a court considers both prongs of this inquiry, this
    2                         ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                                      Syllabus
    
        Court has the discretion to correct the lower court’s errors at each
        step. P. 3.
              (b) Whether a detention is reasonable under the Fourth Amend
        ment “is predominantly an objective inquiry.” Indianapolis v. Ed
        mond, 
    531 U.S. 32
    , 47. Courts ask whether “the circumstances,
        viewed objectively, justify [the challenged] action.” Scott v. United
        States, 
    436 U.S. 128
    , 138. Except for cases that involve special
        needs, e.g., Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 
    515 U.S. 646
    , 653, or
        administrative searches, e.g., Michigan v. Clifford, 
    464 U.S. 287
    ,
        294, this Court has almost uniformly rejected invitations to probe
        subjective intent. The Court of Appeals was mistaken in believing
        that Edmond established that “ ‘programmatic purpose’ is relevant to
        Fourth Amendment analysis of programs of seizures without prob
        able cause.” 
    580 F.3d 949
    , 968. It was not the absence of probable
        cause that triggered Edmond’s invalidating-purpose inquiry, but the
        checkpoints’ failure to be based on “individualized suspicion.” 531
        U. S., at 47. Here a neutral Magistrate Judge issued a warrant au
        thorizing al-Kidd’s arrest, and the affidavit accompanying the war
        rant application gave individualized reasons to believe that he was a
        material witness who would soon disappear. A warrant based on in
        dividualized suspicion grants more protection than existed in most of
        this Court’s cases eschewing inquiries into intent, e.g., Whren v.
        United States, 
    517 U.S. 806
    , 813, and Terry v. Ohio, 
    392 U.S. 1
    , 21–
        22. Al-Kidd’s contrary, narrow reading of those cases is rejected. Be
        cause he concedes that individualized suspicion supported the issu
        ance of the material-witness arrest warrant; and does not assert that
        his arrest would have been unconstitutional absent the alleged pre
        text; there is no Fourth Amendment violation here. Pp. 3–9.
           2. Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law and thus is enti
        tled to qualified immunity. A Government official’s conduct violates
        clearly established law when, at the time of the challenged conduct,
        “[t]he contours of [a] right [are] sufficiently clear” that every “reason
        able official would have understood that what he is doing violates
        that right.” Anderson v. Creighton, 
    483 U.S. 635
    , 640. Here, the as
        serted constitutional right falls far short of that threshold. At the
        time of al-Kidd’s arrest, not a single judicial opinion had held that
        pretext could render an objectively reasonable arrest pursuant to a
        material-witness warrant unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit’s reli
        ance on a District Court’s footnoted dictum, irrelevant cases from this
        Court, and the Fourth Amendment’s broad purposes and history is
        rejected. Because Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law, the
        question whether he enjoys absolute immunity need not be ad
        dressed. Pp. 9–12.
    
    580 F.3d 949
    , reversed and remanded.
                        Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)                   3
    
                                   Syllabus
    
       SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
    C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed
    a concurring opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ.,
    joined as to Part I. GINSBURG, J., filed an opinion concurring in the
    judgment, in which BREYER and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR,
    J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which GINSBURG and
    BREYER, JJ., joined. KAGAN, J., took no part in the consideration or de
    cision of the case.
                            Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)                              1
    
                                 Opinion of the Court
    
         NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
         preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
         notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash
         ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
         that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
    
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                                       _________________
    
                                        No. 10–98
                                       _________________
    
    
      JOHN D. ASHCROFT, PETITIONER v. ABDULLAH 
    
                      AL-KIDD 
    
    
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
                APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
    
                                     [May 31, 2011] 
    
    
      JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.
      We decide whether a former Attorney General enjoys
    immunity from suit for allegedly authorizing federal
    prosecutors to obtain valid material-witness warrants for
    detention of terrorism suspects whom they would other
    wise lack probable cause to arrest.
                                  I
      The federal material-witness statute authorizes judges
    to “order the arrest of [a] person” whose testimony “is
    material in a criminal proceeding . . . if it is shown that it
    may become impracticable to secure the presence of the
    person by subpoena.” 
    18 U.S. C
    . §3144. Material wit
    nesses enjoy the same constitutional right to pretrial
    release as other federal detainees, and federal law re
    quires release if their testimony “can adequately be
    secured by deposition, and if further detention is not nec
    essary to prevent a failure of justice.” Ibid.
      Because this case arises from a motion to dismiss, we
    accept as true the factual allegations in Abdullah al-Kidd’s
    complaint. The complaint alleges that, in the aftermath of
    the September 11th terrorist attacks, then-Attorney Gen
    2                   ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    eral John Ashcroft authorized federal prosecutors and law
    enforcement officials to use the material-witness statute to
    detain individuals with suspected ties to terrorist organi
    zations. It is alleged that federal officials had no intention
    of calling most of these individuals as witnesses, and that
    they were detained, at Ashcroft’s direction, because fed
    eral officials suspected them of supporting terrorism but
    lacked sufficient evidence to charge them with a crime.
       It is alleged that this pretextual detention policy led
    to the material-witness arrest of al-Kidd, a native-born
    United States citizen. FBI agents apprehended him in
    March 2003 as he checked in for a flight to Saudi Arabia.
    Two days earlier, federal officials had informed a Magis
    trate Judge that, if al-Kidd boarded his flight, they be
    lieved information “crucial” to the prosecution of Sami
    Omar al-Hussayen would be lost. App. 64. Al-Kidd re
    mained in federal custody for 16 days and on supervised
    release until al-Hussayen’s trial concluded 14 months
    later. Prosecutors never called him as a witness.
       In March 2005, al-Kidd filed this Bivens action, see
    Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 
    403 U.S. 388
     (1971) to challenge the constitutionality of Ashcroft’s
    alleged policy; he also asserted several other claims not
    relevant here against Ashcroft and others. Ashcroft filed a
    motion to dismiss based on absolute and qualified immu
    nity, which the District Court denied. A divided panel of
    the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    affirmed, holding that the Fourth Amendment prohibits
    pretextual arrests absent probable cause of criminal
    wrongdoing, and that Ashcroft could not claim qualified or
    absolute immunity. See 
    580 F.3d 949
     (2009).
       Judge Bea dissented, 
    580 F. 3d
    , at 981, and eight judges
    dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc, see 
    598 F.3d 1129
    , 1137, 1142 (CA9 2010). We granted certiorari,
    see 562 U. S. ___ (2010).
                     Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011) 
              3
    
                         Opinion of the Court 
    
    
                                  II 
    
       Qualified immunity shields federal and state officials
    from money damages unless a plaintiff pleads facts show
    ing (1) that the official violated a statutory or constitu
    tional right, and (2) that the right was “clearly estab
    lished” at the time of the challenged conduct. Harlow v.
    Fitzgerald, 
    457 U.S. 800
    , 818 (1982). We recently reaf
    firmed that lower courts have discretion to decide which of
    the two prongs of qualified-immunity analysis to tackle
    first. See Pearson v. Callahan, 
    555 U.S. 223
    , 236 (2009).
       Courts should think carefully before expending “scarce
    judicial resources” to resolve difficult and novel questions
    of constitutional or statutory interpretation that will “have
    no effect on the outcome of the case.” Id., at 236–237; see
    id., at 237–242. When, however, a Court of Appeals does
    address both prongs of qualified-immunity analysis, we
    have discretion to correct its errors at each step. Although
    not necessary to reverse an erroneous judgment, doing so
    ensures that courts do not insulate constitutional deci
    sions at the frontiers of the law from our review or inad
    vertently undermine the values qualified immunity seeks
    to promote. The former occurs when the constitutional
    law question is wrongly decided; the latter when what is
    not clearly established is held to be so. In this case, the
    Court of Appeals’ analysis at both steps of the qualified
    immunity inquiry needs correction.
                                 A
       The Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of the
    people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
    effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” An
    arrest, of course, qualifies as a “seizure” of a “person”
    under this provision, Dunaway v. New York, 
    442 U.S. 200
    ,
    207–208 (1979), and so must be reasonable under the
    circumstances. Al-Kidd does not assert that Government
    officials would have acted unreasonably if they had used a
    4                  ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    material-witness warrant to arrest him for the purpose of
    securing his testimony for trial. See Brief for Respondent
    16–17; Tr. of Oral Arg. 20–22. He contests, however (and
    the Court of Appeals here rejected), the reasonableness of
    using the warrant to detain him as a suspected criminal.
      Fourth Amendment reasonableness “is predominantly
    an objective inquiry.” Edmond, supra, at 47. We ask
    whether “the circumstances, viewed objectively, justify
    [the challenged] action.” Scott v. United States, 
    436 U.S. 128
    , 138 (1978). If so, that action was reasonable “what
    ever the subjective intent” motivating the relevant offi
    cials. Whren v. United States, 
    517 U.S. 806
    , 814 (1996).
    This approach recognizes that the Fourth Amendment
    regulates conduct rather than thoughts, Bond v. United
    States, 
    529 U.S. 334
    , 338, n. 2 (2000); and it promotes
    evenhanded, uniform enforcement of the law, Devenpeck v.
    Alford, 
    543 U.S. 146
    , 153–154 (2004).
      Two “limited exception[s]” to this rule are our special
    needs and administrative-search cases, where “actual
    motivations” do matter. United States v. Knights, 
    534 U.S. 112
    , 122 (2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).
    A judicial warrant and probable cause are not needed
    where the search or seizure is justified by “special needs,
    beyond the normal need for law enforcement,” such as the
    need to deter drug use in public schools, Vernonia School
    Dist. 47J v. Acton, 
    515 U.S. 646
    , 653 (1995) (internal
    quotation marks omitted), or the need to assure that
    railroad employees engaged in train operations are not
    under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Skinner v. Railway
    Labor Executives’ Assn., 
    489 U.S. 602
     (1989); and where
    the search or seizure is in execution of an administrative
    warrant authorizing, for example, an inspection of fire
    damaged premises to determine the cause, Michigan v.
    Clifford, 
    464 U.S. 287
    , 294 (1984) (plurality opinion), or
    an inspection of residential premises to assure compliance
    with a housing code, Camara v. Municipal Court of City
                     Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)            5
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    and County of San Francisco, 
    387 U.S. 523
    , 535–538
    (1967). But those exceptions do not apply where the offi
    cer’s purpose is not to attend to the special needs or to the
    investigation for which the administrative inspection is
    justified. See Whren, supra, at 811–812. The Government
    seeks to justify the present arrest on the basis of a prop
    erly issued judicial warrant—so that the special-needs and
    administrative-inspection cases cannot be the basis for a
    purpose inquiry here.
       Apart from those cases, we have almost uniformly re
    jected invitations to probe subjective intent. See Brigham
    City v. Stuart, 
    547 U.S. 398
    , 404 (2006). There is one
    category of exception, upon which the Court of Appeals
    principally relied. In Edmond, 
    531 U.S. 32
    , we held that
    the Fourth Amendment could not condone suspicionless
    vehicle checkpoints set up for the purpose of detecting
    illegal narcotics. Although we had previously approved
    vehicle checkpoints set up for the purpose of keeping off
    the road unlicensed drivers, Delaware v. Prouse, 
    440 U.S. 648
    , 663 (1979), or alcohol-impaired drivers, Michigan
    Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 
    496 U.S. 444
     (1990); and for
    the purpose of interdicting those who illegally cross the
    border, United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 
    428 U.S. 543
    (1976); we found the drug-detection purpose in Edmond
    invalidating because it was “ultimately indistinguishable
    from the general interest in crime control,” 531 U. S., at
    44. In the Court of Appeals’ view, Edmond established
    that “ ‘programmatic purpose’ is relevant to Fourth
    Amendment analysis of programs of seizures without
    probable cause.” 
    580 F. 3d
    , at 968.
        That was mistaken. It was not the absence of probable
    cause that triggered the invalidating-purpose inquiry in
    Edmond. To the contrary, Edmond explicitly said that it
    would approve checkpoint stops for “general crime control
    purposes” that were based upon merely “some quantum of
    individualized suspicion.” 531 U. S., at 47. Purpose was
    6                      ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                             Opinion of the Court
    
    relevant in Edmond because “programmatic purposes may
    be relevant to the validity of Fourth Amendment intru
    sions undertaken pursuant to a general scheme without
    individualized suspicion,” id., at 45–46 (emphasis added).1
      Needless to say, warrantless, “suspicionless intrusions
    pursuant to a general scheme,” id., at 47, are far removed
    from the facts of this case. A warrant issued by a neutral
    Magistrate Judge authorized al-Kidd’s arrest. The affida
    vit accompanying the warrant application (as al-Kidd
    concedes) gave individualized reasons to believe that he
    was a material witness and that he would soon disappear.
    The existence of a judicial warrant based on individualized
    suspicion takes this case outside the domain of not only
    our special-needs and administrative-search cases, but of
    Edmond as well.
      A warrant based on individualized suspicion2 in fact
    grants more protection against the malevolent and the
    incompetent than existed in most of our cases eschewing
    inquiries into intent. In Whren, 517 U. S., at 813, and
    Devenpeck, 543 U. S., at 153, we declined to probe the
    motives behind seizures supported by probable cause but
    lacking a warrant approved by a detached magistrate.
    
    ——————
      1 The Court of Appeals also relied upon Ferguson v. Charleston, 
    532 U.S. 67
     (2001), which held unconstitutional a program of mandatory
    drug testing of maternity patients. Like Edmond, that case involved a
    general scheme of searches without individualized suspicion. 532 U. S.,
    at 77, n. 10.
      2 JUSTICE GINSBURG suggests that our use of the word “suspicion” is
    
    peculiar because that word “ordinarily” means “that the person sus
    pected has engaged in wrongdoing.” Post, at 3, n. 2 (opinion concurring
    in judgment). We disagree. No usage of the word is more common and
    idiomatic than a statement such as “I have a suspicion he knows
    something about the crime,” or even “I have a suspicion she is throwing
    me a surprise birthday party.” The many cases cited by JUSTICE
    GINSBURG, post, at 3, n. 2, which use the neutral word “suspicion” in
    connection with wrongdoing, prove nothing except that searches and
    seizures for reasons other than suspected wrongdoing are rare.
                     Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)           7
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
    Terry v. Ohio, 
    392 U.S. 1
    , 21–22 (1968), and Knights, 534
    U. S., at 121–122, applied an objective standard to war
    rantless searches justified by a lesser showing of reason
    able suspicion.     We review even some suspicionless
    searches for objective reasonableness. See Bond, 529
    U. S., at 335–336, 338, n. 2. If concerns about improper
    motives and pretext do not justify subjective inquiries in
    those less protective contexts, we see no reason to adopt
    that inquiry here.
      Al-Kidd would read our cases more narrowly. He as
    serts that Whren establishes that we ignore subjective
    intent only when there exists “probable cause to believe
    that a violation of law has occurred,” 517 U. S., at 811—
    which was not the case here. That is a distortion of Whren.
    Our unanimous opinion held that we would not look
    behind an objectively reasonable traffic stop to determine
    whether racial profiling or a desire to investigate other
    potential crimes was the real motive. See id., at 810, 813.
    In the course of our analysis, we dismissed Whren’s
    reliance on our inventory-search and administrative
    inspection cases by explaining that those cases do not
    “endors[e] the principle that ulterior motives can invali
    date police conduct that is justifiable on the basis of prob
    able cause to believe that a violation of law has occurred,”
    id., at 811 But to say that ulterior motives do not in
    validate a search that is legitimate because of probable
    cause to believe a crime has occurred is not to say that it
    does invalidate all searches that are legitimate for other
    reasons.
      “[O]nly an undiscerning reader,” ibid., would think
    otherwise. We referred to probable cause to believe that a
    violation of law had occurred because that was the legiti
    mating factor in the case at hand. But the analysis of
    our opinion swept broadly to reject inquiries into motive
    generally. See id., at 812–815. We remarked that our
    special-needs and administrative-inspection cases are un
    8                       ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                              Opinion of the Court
    
    usual in their concern for pretext, and do nothing more
    than “explain that the exemption from the need for prob
    able cause (and warrant), which is accorded to searches
    made for the purpose of inventory or administrative regu
    lation, is not accorded to searches that are not made for
    those purposes,” id., at 811–812. And our opinion empha
    sized that we had at that time (prior to Edmond) rejected
    every request to examine subjective intent outside the
    narrow context of special needs and administrative inspec
    tions. See 517 U. S., at 812. Thus, al-Kidd’s approach
    adds an “only” to a sentence plucked from the Whren
    opinion, and then elevates that sentence (as so revised)
    over the remainder of the opinion, and over the consistent
    holdings of our other cases.
       Because al-Kidd concedes that individualized suspicion
    supported the issuance of the material-witness arrest
    warrant; and does not assert that his arrest would have
    been unconstitutional absent the alleged pretextual use of
    the warrant; we find no Fourth Amendment violation.3
    Efficient4 and evenhanded application of the law demands
    ——————
        3 The
            concerns of JUSTICES GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR about the valid
    ity of the warrant in this case are beside the point. See post, at 1–2
    (GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment); post, at 2 (SOTOMAYOR, J.,
    concurring in judgment). The validity of the warrant is not our “open
    ing assumption,” post, at 2 (GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment); it is
    the premise of al-Kidd’s argument. Al-Kidd does not claim that
    Ashcroft is liable because the FBI agents failed to obtain a valid war
    rant. He takes the validity of the warrant as a given, and argues that
    his arrest nevertheless violated the Constitution because it was moti
    vated by an illegitimate purpose. His separate Fourth Amendment and
    statutory claims against the FBI agents who sought the material
    witness warrant, which are the focus of both concurrences, are not
    before us.
       4 We may note in passing that al-Kidd alleges that the Attorney Gen
    
    eral authorized the use of material-witness warrants for detention of
    suspected terrorists, but not that he forbade the use of those warrants
    to detain material witnesses. Which means that if al-Kidd’s inquiry
    into actual motive is accepted, mere determination that the Attorney
                        Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)                    9
    
                             Opinion of the Court
    
    that we look to whether the arrest is objectively justified,
    rather than to the motive of the arresting officer.
                                   B
       A Government official’s conduct violates clearly estab
    lished law when, at the time of the challenged conduct,
    “[t]he contours of [a] right [are] sufficiently clear” that
    every “reasonable official would have understood that
    what he is doing violates that right.” Anderson v. Creigh
    ton, 
    483 U.S. 635
    , 640 (1987). We do not require a case
    directly on point, but existing precedent must have placed
    the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate.
    See ibid.; Malley v. Briggs, 
    475 U.S. 335
    , 341 (1986). The
    constitutional question in this case falls far short of that
    threshold.
       At the time of al-Kidd’s arrest, not a single judicial
    opinion had held that pretext could render an objectively
    reasonable arrest pursuant to a material-witness warrant
    unconstitutional. A district-court opinion had suggested,
    in a footnoted dictum devoid of supporting citation, that
    using such a warrant for preventive detention of suspects
    “is an illegitimate use of the statute”—implying (we accept
    for the sake of argument) that the detention would there
    fore be unconstitutional. United States v. Awadallah, 
    202 F. Supp. 2d 55
    , 77, n. 28 (SDNY 2002). The Court of
    Appeals thought nothing could “have given John Ashcroft
    fair[er] warning” that his conduct violated the Fourth
    Amendment, because the footnoted dictum “call[ed] out
    Ashcroft by name”! 
    580 F. 3d
    , at 972–973 (internal quota
    tion marks omitted; emphasis added). We will indulge the
    assumption (though it does not seem to us realistic) that
    Justice Department lawyers bring to the Attorney Gen
    —————— 
    
    General promulgated the alleged policy would not alone decide the case. 
    
    Al-Kidd would also have to prove that the officials who sought his 
    
    material-arrest warrant were motivated by Ashcroft’s policy, not by a
    
    desire to call al-Kidd as a witness. 
    
    10                  ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    eral’s personal attention all district judges’ footnoted
    speculations that boldly “call him out by name.” On that
    assumption, would it prove that for him (and for him
    only?) it became clearly established that pretextual use of
    the material-witness statute rendered the arrest unconsti
    tutional? An extraordinary proposition. Even a district
    judge’s ipse dixit of a holding is not “controlling authority”
    in any jurisdiction, much less in the entire United States;
    and his ipse dixit of a footnoted dictum falls far short of
    what is necessary absent controlling authority: a robust
    “consensus of cases of persuasive authority.” Wilson v.
    Layne, 
    526 U.S. 603
    , 617 (1999).
       The Court of Appeals’ other cases “clearly establishing”
    the constitutional violation are, of course, those we re
    jected as irrelevant in our discussion of whether there was
    any constitutional violation at all. And the Court of Ap
    peals’ reference to those cases here makes the same error
    of assuming that purpose is only disregarded when there
    is probable cause to suspect a violation of law.
       The Court of Appeals also found clearly established law
    lurking in the broad “history and purposes of the Fourth
    Amendment.” 
    580 F. 3d
    , at 971. We have repeatedly told
    courts—and the Ninth Circuit in particular, see Brosseau
    v. Haugen, 
    543 U.S. 194
    , 198–199 (2004) (per curiam)—
    not to define clearly established law at a high level of
    generality. See also, e.g., Wilson, supra, at 615; Anderson,
    supra, at 639–640; cf. Sawyer v. Smith, 
    497 U.S. 227
    , 236
    (1990). The general proposition, for example, that an
    unreasonable search or seizure violates the Fourth
    Amendment is of little help in determining whether the
    violative nature of particular conduct is clearly estab
    lished. See Saucier v. Katz, 
    533 U.S. 194
    , 201–202 (2001);
    Wilson, supra, at 615.
       The same is true of the Court of Appeals’ broad histori
    cal assertions. The Fourth Amendment was a response to
    the English Crown’s use of general warrants, which often
                      Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)           11
    
                          Opinion of the Court
    
    allowed royal officials to search and seize whatever and
    whomever they pleased while investigating crimes or
    affronts to the Crown. See Stanford v. Texas, 
    379 U.S. 476
    , 481–485 (1965). According to the Court of Appeals,
    Ashcroft should have seen that a pretextual warrant
    similarly “gut[s] the substantive protections of the Fourth
    Amendmen[t]” and allows the State “to arrest upon the
    executive’s mere suspicion.” 
    580 F. 3d
    , at 972.
       Ashcroft must be forgiven for missing the parallel,
    which escapes us as well. The principal evil of the general
    warrant was addressed by the Fourth Amendment’s par
    ticularity requirement, Stanford, supra, at 485, which
    Ashcroft’s alleged policy made no effort to evade. The
    warrant authorizing al-Kidd’s arrest named al-Kidd and
    only al-Kidd. It might be argued, perhaps, that when, in
    response to the English abuses, the Fourth Amendment
    said that warrants could only issue “on probable cause” it
    meant only probable cause to suspect a violation of law,
    and not probable cause to believe that the individual
    named in the warrant was a material witness. But that
    would make all arrests pursuant to material-witness
    warrants unconstitutional, whether pretextual or not—
    and that is not the position taken by al-Kidd in this case.
       While featuring a District Court’s footnoted dictum, the
    Court of Appeals made no mention of this Court’s affirma
    tion in Edmond of the “predominan[t]” rule that reason
    ableness is an objective inquiry, 531 U. S., at 47. Nor did it
    mention Whren’s and Knights’ statements that subjective
    intent mattered in a very limited subset of our Fourth
    Amendment cases; or Terry’s objective evaluation of inves
    tigatory searches premised on reasonable suspicion rather
    than probable cause; or Bond’s objective evaluation of a
    suspicionless investigatory search. The Court of Appeals
    seems to have cherry-picked the aspects of our opinions
    that gave colorable support to the proposition that the un
    constitutionality of the action here was clearly established.
    12                  ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                         Opinion of the Court
    
       Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing
    room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about
    open legal questions. When properly applied, it protects
    “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly
    violate the law.” Malley, 475 U. S., at 341. Ashcroft de
    serves neither label, not least because eight Court of
    Appeals judges agreed with his judgment in a case of first
    impression. See Wilson, supra, at 618. He deserves quali
    fied immunity even assuming—contrafactually—that his
    alleged detention policy violated the Fourth Amendment.
                            *    *     *
       We hold that an objectively reasonable arrest and deten
    tion of a material witness pursuant to a validly obtained
    warrant cannot be challenged as unconstitutional on the
    basis of allegations that the arresting authority had an
    improper motive. Because Ashcroft did not violate clearly
    established law, we need not address the more difficult
    question whether he enjoys absolute immunity. The
    judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case
    is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this
    opinion.
                                                It is so ordered.
    
      JUSTICE KAGAN took no part in the consideration or
    decision of this case.
                     Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)            1
    
                       KENNEDY, J., concurring
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                             _________________
    
                              No. 10–98
                             _________________
    
    
      JOHN D. ASHCROFT, PETITIONER v. ABDULLAH 
    
                      AL-KIDD 
    
    
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
                APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
    
                            [May 31, 2011] 
    
    
       JUSTICE KENNEDY, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG,
    JUSTICE BREYER, and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join as to Part
    I, concurring.
       I join the opinion of the Court in full. In holding that
    the Attorney General could be liable for damages based on
    an unprecedented constitutional rule, the Court of Appeals
    for the Ninth Circuit disregarded the purposes of the doc
    trine of qualified immunity. This concurring opinion makes
    two additional observations.
                                   I
       The Court’s holding is limited to the arguments pre
    sented by the parties and leaves unresolved whether the
    Government’s use of the Material Witness Statute in this
    case was lawful. See ante, at 8 (noting that al-Kidd “does
    not assert that his arrest would have been unconstitu
    tional absent the alleged pretextual use of the warrant”).
    Under the statute, a Magistrate Judge may issue a war
    rant to arrest someone as a material witness upon a show
    ing by affidavit that “the testimony of a person is material
    in a criminal proceeding” and “that it may become imprac
    ticable to secure the presence of the person by subpoena.”
    
    18 U.S. C
    . §3144. The scope of the statute’s lawful
    authorization is uncertain. For example, a law-abiding
    citizen might observe a crime during the days or weeks
    2                  ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                       KENNEDY, J., concurring
    
    before a scheduled flight abroad. It is unclear whether
    those facts alone might allow police to obtain a material
    witness warrant on the ground that it “may become im
    practicable” to secure the person’s presence by subpoena.
    Ibid. The question becomes more difficult if one further
    assumes the traveler would be willing to testify if asked;
    and more difficult still if one supposes that authorities
    delay obtaining or executing the warrant until the traveler
    has arrived at the airport. These possibilities resemble
    the facts in this case. See ante, at 2.
       In considering these issues, it is important to bear in
    mind that the Material Witness Statute might not provide
    for the issuance of warrants within the meaning of the
    Fourth Amendment’s Warrant Clause. The typical arrest
    warrant is based on probable cause that the arrestee has
    committed a crime; but that is not the standard for the
    issuance of warrants under the Material Witness Statute.
    See ante, at 11 (reserving the possibility that probable
    cause for purposes of the Fourth Amendment’s Warrant
    Clause means “only probable cause to suspect a violation
    of law”). If material witness warrants do not qualify as
    “Warrants” under the Fourth Amendment, then material
    witness arrests might still be governed by the Fourth
    Amendment’s separate reasonableness requirement for
    seizures of the person. See United States v. Watson, 
    423 U.S. 411
     (1976). Given the difficulty of these issues, the
    Court is correct to address only the legal theory put before
    it, without further exploring when material witness ar
    rests might be consistent with statutory and constitutional
    requirements.
                                 II
       The fact that the Attorney General holds a high office in
    the Government must inform what law is clearly estab
    lished for the purposes of this case. Mitchell v. Forsyth,
    
    472 U.S. 511
    , 525 (1985). Some federal officers perform
                     Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)            3
    
                        KENNEDY, J., concurring
    
    their functions in a single jurisdiction, say within the con
    fines of one State or one federal judicial district. They
    “reasonably can anticipate when their conduct may give
    rise to liability for damages” and so are expected to adjust
    their behavior in accordance with local precedent. Davis
    v. Scherer, 
    468 U.S. 183
    , 195 (1984); see also Anderson v.
    Creighton, 
    483 U.S. 635
    , 639–640 (1987). In contrast the
    Attorney General occupies a national office and so sets
    policies implemented in many jurisdictions throughout the
    country. The official with responsibilities in many juris
    dictions may face ambiguous and sometimes inconsistent
    sources of decisional law. While it may be clear that one
    Court of Appeals has approved a certain course of conduct,
    other Courts of Appeals may have disapproved it, or at
    least reserved the issue.
       When faced with inconsistent legal rules in different
    jurisdictions, national officeholders should be given some
    deference for qualified immunity purposes, at least if they
    implement policies consistent with the governing law of
    the jurisdiction where the action is taken. As we have
    explained, qualified immunity is lost when plaintiffs point
    either to “cases of controlling authority in their jurisdic
    tion at the time of the incident” or to “a consensus of cases
    of persuasive authority such that a reasonable officer
    could not have believed that his actions were lawful.”
    Wilson v. Layne, 
    526 U.S. 603
    , 617 (1999); see also ante,
    at 9–10. These standards ensure the officer has “fair and
    clear warning” of what the Constitution requires. United
    States v. Lanier, 
    520 U.S. 259
    , 271 (1997).
       A national officeholder intent on retaining qualified
    immunity need not abide by the most stringent standard
    adopted anywhere in the United States. And the national
    officeholder need not guess at when a relatively small set
    of appellate precedents have established a binding legal
    rule. If national officeholders were subject to personal
    liability whenever they confronted disagreement among
    4                   ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                        KENNEDY, J., concurring
    
    appellate courts, those officers would be deterred from full
    use of their legal authority. The consequences of that
    deterrence must counsel caution by the Judicial Branch,
    particularly in the area of national security. See Ashcroft
    v. Iqbal, 
    556 U.S.
    ___, ___ (2009) (slip op., at 21). Fur
    thermore, too expansive a view of “clearly established law”
    would risk giving local judicial determinations the effect of
    rules with de facto national significance, contrary to the
    normal process of ordered appellate review.
      The proceedings in this case illustrate these concerns.
    The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appears to
    have reasoned that a Federal District Court sitting in New
    York had authority to establish a legal rule binding on
    the Attorney General and, therefore, on federal law
    enforcement operations conducted nationwide. See 
    580 F.3d 949
    , 972–973 (2009). Indeed, this case involves a
    material witness warrant issued in Boise, Idaho, and an
    arrest near Washington, D. C. Of course, district court
    decisions are not precedential to this extent. Ante, at 9–
    10. But nationwide security operations should not have to
    grind to a halt even when an appellate court finds those
    operations unconstitutional. The doctrine of qualified
    immunity does not so constrain national officeholders
    entrusted with urgent responsibilities.
                        Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)                   1
    
                     GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                                 _________________
    
                                  No. 10–98
                                 _________________
    
    
       JOHN D. ASHCROFT, PETITIONER v. ABDULLAH 
    
                       AL-KIDD 
    
    
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
                APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
    
                                [May 31, 2011] 
    
    
      JUSTICE GINSBURG, with whom JUSTICE BREYER and
    JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join, concurring in the judgment.
      Is a former U. S. Attorney General subject to a suit for
    damages on a claim that he instructed subordinates to
    use the Material Witness Statute, 
    18 U.S. C
    . §3144, as a
    pretext to detain terrorist suspects preventively? Given
    Whren v. United States, 
    517 U.S. 806
     (1996), I agree with
    the Court that no “clearly established law” renders
    Ashcroft answerable in damages for the abuse of authority
    al-Kidd charged. Ante, at 12. But I join JUSTICE
    SOTOMAYOR in objecting to the Court’s disposition of al-
    Kidd’s Fourth Amendment claim on the merits; as she
    observes, post, at 1 (opinion concurring in judgment), that
    claim involves novel and trying questions that will “have
    no effect on the outcome of th[is] case.” Pearson v. Calla
    han, 
    555 U.S. 223
    , 236–237 (2009).
      In addressing al-Kidd’s Fourth Amendment claim
    against Ashcroft, the Court assumes at the outset the
    existence of a validly obtained material witness warrant.
    Ante, at 1, 12. That characterization is puzzling. See post,
    at 2 (opinion of SOTOMAYOR, J.).1 Is a warrant “validly
    
    ——————
       1 Nowhere in al-Kidd’s complaint is there any concession that the
    
    warrant gained by the FBI agents was validly obtained. But cf. ante, at
    8, n. 3 (majority opinion).
    2                       ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                     GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment
    
    obtained” when the affidavit on which it is based fails to
    inform the issuing Magistrate Judge that “the Govern
    ment has no intention of using [al-Kidd as a witness] at
    [another’s] trial,” post, at 1, and does not disclose that al-
    Kidd had cooperated with FBI agents each of the several
    times they had asked to interview him, App. 26?
       Casting further doubt on the assumption that the war
    rant was validly obtained, the Magistrate Judge was not
    told that al-Kidd’s parents, wife, and children were all
    citizens and residents of the United States. In addition,
    the affidavit misrepresented that al-Kidd was about to
    take a one-way flight to Saudi Arabia, with a first-class
    ticket costing approximately $5,000; in fact, al-Kidd had a
    round-trip, coach-class ticket that cost $1,700.2 Given
    these omissions and misrepresentations, there is strong
    cause to question the Court’s opening assumption—a valid
    material-witness warrant—and equally strong reason to
    conclude that a merits determination was neither neces
    sary nor proper.3
    ——————
       2 Judicial officers asked to issue material witness warrants must
    
    determine whether the affidavit supporting the application shows that
    “the testimony of a person is material in a criminal proceeding” and
    that “it may become impracticable to secure the presence of the person
    by subpoena.” 
    18 U.S. C
    . §3144. Even if these conditions are met,
    issuance of the warrant is discretionary. Ibid. (“judicial officer may
    order the arrest of the person” (emphasis added)). Al-Kidd’s experience
    illustrates the importance of vigilant exercise of this checking role by
    the judicial officer to whom the warrant application is presented.
       The affidavit used to secure al-Kidd’s detention was spare; it did not
    state with particularity the information al-Kidd purportedly possessed,
    nor did it specify how al-Kidd’s knowledge would be material to Sami
    Omar al-Hussayen’s prosecution. As to impracticability, the affidavit
    contained only this unelaborated statement: “It is believed that if Al-
    Kidd travels to Saudi Arabia, the United States Government will be
    unable to secure his presence at trial via subpoena.” App. 64. Had the
    Magistrate Judge insisted on more concrete showings of materiality
    and impracticability, al-Kidd might have been spared the entire ordeal.
       3 The Court thrice states that the material witness warrant for al
                          Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)                     3
    
                     GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment
    
    ——————
    Kidd’s arrest was “based on individualized suspicion.” Ante, at 6, 8.
    The word “suspicion,” however, ordinarily indicates that the person
    suspected has engaged in wrongdoing. See Black’s Law Dictionary
    1585 (9th ed. 2009) (defining “reasonable suspicion” to mean “[a] par
    ticularized and objective basis, supported by specific and articulable
    facts, for suspecting a person of criminal activity”). Material witness
    status does not “involv[e] suspicion, or lack of suspicion,” of the individ
    ual so identified. See Illinois v. Lidster, 
    540 U.S. 419
    , 424–425 (2004).
       This Court’s decisions, until today, have uniformly used the term
    “individualized suspicion” to mean “individualized suspicion of wrong
    doing.” See Indianapolis v. Edmond, 
    531 U.S. 32
    , 37 (2000) (emphasis
    added); Chandler v. Miller, 
    520 U.S. 305
    , 313 (1997) (same). See also,
    e.g., Brigham City v. Stuart, 
    547 U.S. 398
    , 405 (2006) (referring to
    “programmatic searches conducted without individualized suspicion—
    such as checkpoints to combat drunk driving or drug trafficking”);
    Board of Ed. of Independent School Dist. No. 92 of Pottawatomie Cty. v.
    Earls, 
    536 U.S. 822
    , 830 (2002) (“finding of individualized suspicion
    may not be necessary when a school conducts drug testing”); Whren v.
    United States, 
    517 U.S. 806
    , 817–818 (1996) (observed traffic violations
    give rise to individualized suspicion); Michigan Dept. of State Police v.
    Sitz, 
    496 U.S. 444
    , 451 (1990) (“Detention of particular motorists for
    more extensive field sobriety testing may require satisfaction of an
    individualized suspicion standard.”); Maryland v. Buie, 
    494 U.S. 325
    ,
    334–335, n. 2 (1990) (“Terry [v. Ohio, 
    392 U.S. 1
     (1968)] requires
    reasonable, individualized suspicion before a frisk for weapons can be
    conducted.”); Treasury Employees v. Von Raab, 
    489 U.S. 656
    , 668
    (1989) (“[I]n certain limited circumstances, the Government’s need to
    discover . . . latent or hidden conditions, or to prevent their develop
    ment, is sufficiently compelling to justify [search that intrudes] on
    privacy . . . without any measure of individualized suspicion.”);
    O’Connor v. Ortega, 
    480 U.S. 709
    , 726 (1987) (“petitioners had an
    ‘individualized suspicion’ of misconduct by Dr. Ortega”); United States
    v. Montoya de Hernandez, 
    473 U.S. 531
    , 538 (1985) (“Automotive
    travelers may be stopped at fixed checkpoints near the border without
    individualized suspicion . . .”); New Jersey v. T. L. O., 
    469 U.S. 325
    ,
    342, n. 8 (1985) (“the search of T. L. O.’s purse was based upon
    an individualized suspicion that she had violated school rules”); Michi
    gan v. Summers, 
    452 U.S. 692
    , 699, n. 9 (1981) (“police executing a
    search warrant at a tavern could not . . . frisk a patron unless the
    officers had individualized suspicion that the patron might be armed or
    dangerous”).
       The Court’s suggestion that the term “individualized suspicion” is
    more commonly associated with “know[ing] something about [a] crime”
    4                       ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                     GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment
    
       I also agree with JUSTICE KENNEDY that al-Kidd’s
    treatment presents serious questions, unaddressed by the
    Court, concerning “the [legality of] the Government’s use
    of the Material Witness Statute in this case.” Ante, at 1
    (concurring opinion). In addition to the questions JUSTICE
    KENNEDY poses, and even if the initial material witness
    classification had been proper, what even arguably legiti
    mate basis could there be for the harsh custodial condi
    tions to which al-Kidd was subjected: Ostensibly held only
    to secure his testimony, al-Kidd was confined in three
    different detention centers during his 16 days’ incarcera
    tion, kept in high-security cells lit 24 hours a day, strip
    searched and subjected to body-cavity inspections on more
    than one occasion, and handcuffed and shackled about his
    wrists, legs, and waist. App. 29–36; cf. Bell v. Wolfish, 
    441 U.S. 520
    , 539, n. 20 (1979) (“[L]oading a detainee with
    chains and shackles and throwing him in a dungeon may
    ensure his presence at trial and preserve the security of
    the institution. But it would be difficult to conceive of a
    situation where conditions so harsh, employed to achieve
    objectives that could be accomplished in so many alterna
    tive and less harsh methods, would not support a conclu
    sion that the purpose for which they were imposed was to
    punish.”).
       However circumscribed al-Kidd’s Bivens claim against
    Ashcroft may have been, see Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed.
    Narcotics Agents, 
    403 U.S. 388
     (1971); ante, at 8 (majority
    opinion); ante, at 1 (KENNEDY, J., concurring), his remain
    ——————
    or “throwing . . . a surprise birthday party” than with criminal suspects,
    ante, at 6, n. 2 (internal quotation marks omitted), is hardly credible.
    The import of the term in legal argot is not genuinely debatable. When
    the evening news reports that a murder “suspect” is on the loose, the
    viewer is meant to be on the lookout for the perpetrator, not the wit
    ness. Ashcroft understood the term as lawyers commonly do: He spoke
    of detaining material witnesses as a means to “tak[e] suspected terror
    ists off the street.” App. 41 (internal quotation marks omitted).
                        Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)                 5
    
                    GINSBURG, J., concurring in judgment
    
    ing claims against the FBI agents who apprehended him
    invite consideration of the issues JUSTICE KENNEDY iden
    tified.4 His challenges to the brutal conditions of his
    confinement have been settled. But his ordeal is a grim
    reminder of the need to install safeguards against disre
    spect for human dignity, constraints that will control
    officialdom even in perilous times.
    
    
    
    
    ——————
      4 The District Court determined that al-Kidd’s factual allegations
    
    against FBI agents regarding their “misrepresentations and omissions
    in the warrant application, if true, would negate the possibility of
    qualified immunity [for those agents].” Memorandum Order in No.
    cv:05–093 (D Idaho, Sept. 27, 2006), p. 18. The agents took no appeal
    from this threshold denial of their qualified immunity plea.
                      Cite as: 563 U. S. ____ (2011)              1
    
                  SOTOMAYOR, J., concurring in judgment
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
                              _________________
    
                               No. 10–98
                              _________________
    
    
      JOHN D. ASHCROFT, PETITIONER v. ABDULLAH 
    
                      AL-KIDD 
    
    
     ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF 
    
                APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
    
                             [May 31, 2011] 
    
    
       JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG
    and JUSTICE BREYER join, concurring in the judgment.
       I concur in the Court’s judgment reversing the Court of
    Appeals because I agree with the majority’s conclusion
    that Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law. I
    cannot join the majority’s opinion, however, because it
    unnecessarily “resolve[s] [a] difficult and novel questio[n]
    of constitutional . . . interpretation that will ‘have no effect
    on the outcome of the case.’ ” Ante, at 3 (quoting Pearson
    v. Callahan, 
    555 U.S. 223
    , 237 (2009)).
       Whether the Fourth Amendment permits the pretextual
    use of a material witness warrant for preventive detention
    of an individual whom the Government has no intention
    of using at trial is, in my view, a closer question than
    the majority’s opinion suggests. Although the majority
    is correct that a government official’s subjective intent is
    generally “irrelevant in determining whether that officer’s
    actions violate the Fourth Amendment,” Bond v. United
    States, 
    529 U.S. 334
    , 338, n. 2 (2000), none of our prior
    cases recognizing that principle involved prolonged deten­
    tion of an individual without probable cause to believe he
    had committed any criminal offense. We have never
    considered whether an official’s subjective intent matters
    for purposes of the Fourth Amendment in that novel con­
    text, and we need not and should not resolve that question
    2                   ASHCROFT v. AL-KIDD
    
                 SOTOMAYOR, J., concurring in judgment
    
    in this case. All Members of the Court agree that, what­
    ever the merits of the underlying Fourth Amendment
    question, Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law.
       The majority’s constitutional ruling is a narrow one pre­
    mised on the existence of a “valid material-witness war­
    ran[t],” ante, at 1—a premise that, at the very least, is
    questionable in light of the allegations set forth in al-
    Kidd’s complaint. Based on those allegations, it is not at
    all clear that it would have been “impracticable to secure
    [al-Kidd’s] presence . . . by subpoena” or that his testimony
    could not “adequately be secured by deposition.” 
    18 U.S. C
    . §3144; see First Amended Complaint in No. 05–
    093–EJL, ¶55, App. 26 (“Mr. al-Kidd would have complied
    with a subpoena had he been issued one or agreed to a
    deposition”). Nor is it clear that the affidavit supporting
    the warrant was sufficient; its failure to disclose that the
    Government had no intention of using al-Kidd as a wit­
    ness at trial may very well have rendered the affidavit
    deliberately false and misleading. Cf. Franks v. Delaware,
    
    438 U.S. 154
    , 155–156 (1978). The majority assumes
    away these factual difficulties, but in my view, they point
    to the artificiality of the way the Fourth Amendment
    question has been presented to this Court and provide
    further reason to avoid rendering an unnecessary holding
    on the constitutional question.
       I also join Part I of JUSTICE KENNEDY’s concurring
    opinion. As that opinion makes clear, this case does not
    present an occasion to address the proper scope of the
    material witness statute or its constitutionality as applied
    in this case. Indeed, nothing in the majority’s opinion
    today should be read as placing this Court’s imprimatur
    on the actions taken by the Government against al-Kidd.
    Ante, at 1 (KENNEDY, J., concurring) (“The Court’s holding
    is limited to the arguments presented by the parties and
    leaves unresolved whether the Government’s use of the
    Material Witness Statute in this case was lawful”).
    

Document Info

DocketNumber: 10-98

Citation Numbers: 563 U.S. 731, 131 S. Ct. 2074, 2011 U.S. LEXIS 4021, 179 L. Ed. 2d 1149

Filed Date: 5/31/2011

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 3/27/2018

Authorities (44)

United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co. , 200 U.S. 321 ( 1906 )

Stanford v. Texas , 379 U.S. 476 ( 1965 )

Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San ... , 387 U.S. 523 ( 1967 )

Terry v. Ohio , 392 U.S. 1 ( 1968 )

Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents , 403 U.S. 388 ( 1971 )

United States v. Martinez-Fuerte , 428 U.S. 543 ( 1976 )

Scott v. United States , 436 U.S. 128 ( 1978 )

Franks v. Delaware , 438 U.S. 154 ( 1978 )

Delaware v. Prouse , 440 U.S. 648 ( 1979 )

Bell v. Wolfish , 441 U.S. 520 ( 1979 )

Dunaway v. New York , 442 U.S. 200 ( 1979 )

Michigan v. Summers , 452 U.S. 692 ( 1981 )

Harlow v. Fitzgerald , 457 U.S. 800 ( 1982 )

Michigan v. Clifford , 464 U.S. 287 ( 1984 )

Davis v. Scherer , 468 U.S. 183 ( 1984 )

New Jersey v. TLO , 469 U.S. 325 ( 1985 )

Mitchell v. Forsyth , 472 U.S. 511 ( 1985 )

United States v. Montoya De Hernandez , 473 U.S. 531 ( 1985 )

Malley v. Briggs , 475 U.S. 335 ( 1986 )

O'CONNOR v. Ortega , 480 U.S. 709 ( 1987 )

View All Authorities »

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