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Case Name Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta NS-DC-0002
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-01192 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Center for Constitutional Rights
Case Summary
In July 2012, Plaintiffs, representing the estates of their respective children, filed suit in United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the United States and Department of Defense officials in their personal capacities. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and ... read more >
In July 2012, Plaintiffs, representing the estates of their respective children, filed suit in United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the United States and Department of Defense officials in their personal capacities. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the plaintiffs alleged that the United States directed and authorized missile strikes resulting in citizens' deaths abroad, in violation of the Fifth and Fourth Amendments and the Bill of Attainder Clause.

The defendants moved to dismiss the case in December 2012 under several theories precluding judicial review, including lack of standing, separation of powers concerns, the presence of non-justiciable political questions, and qualified immunity of the federal officials. The district court scheduled oral arguments for July 2013. Meanwhile, the district court took judicial notice of a New York Times article by Charlie Savage, U.S. Admits for First Time Drones Killed 4 Americans, N.Y. Times, May 22, 2013, and requested briefing on how the statements of the Attorney General of the United States affected the legal issues in the case.

On April 4, 2014, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, due heavily to special factors that precluded a cause of action under Bivens. The Court found no Fourth Amendment claim because there was no actual seizure of the decedents. The Court found no Fifth Amendment claim for two of the Plaintiffs because their deaths were unanticipated, which amounted only to negligence and not a violation of Fifth Amendment substantive due process rights. The Court stated the claim against the third decedent appeared plausible as the death was not unintended. The Court then found that applying Bivens in this case would be inappropriate, as it would be an unprecedented application of Bivens which would "draw the Court into 'the heart of executive and military planning and deliberation'" because the Court would have to examine national security policy, military chain of command, and operational combat decisions. Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, 35 F. Supp. 3d 56, 77 (D.D.C 2014), quoting Lebron v. Rumseld, 670 F.3d 540, 550 (D.C. Cir. 2012). The Court finally found that Bill of Attainder claim was unfounded as Plaintiffs could point to no legislative action. 35 F. Supp. 3d 56.

The case is now closed.

Elizabeth Homan - 11/01/2013
Cade Boland - 03/19/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Courts
International law
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Bivens
Defendant(s) David Petraeus
Joseph Votel
Leon Panetta
United States of America
William H. McRaven
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are two parents who bring suit as the personal representative of the estates of their respective children, who were killed in United States missile strikes.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Center for Constitutional Rights
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:12-cv-01192-RMC (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 3] (2012 WL 3024212)
NS-DC-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/18/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Correspondence] Exhibit 1
NS-DC-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2013
Source: ACLU
U.S. Acknowledges Killing Four Americans in Drone Strikes
NS-DC-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2013
Exhibit 2 (Remarks by the President on the Future of Our Fight Against Terrorism)
NS-DC-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2013
Source: ACLU
Memorandum and Opinion [ECF# 36] (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Collyer, Rosemary M. (FISC, D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0002-0005 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
NS-DC-0002-0001 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York)
NS-DC-0002-9000
Kebriaei, Pardiss (New York)
NS-DC-0002-0001 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Lahood, Maria Couri (California)
NS-DC-0002-0001 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Shamsi, Hina (New York)
NS-DC-0002-0001 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0002-0001 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Wessler, Nathan Freed (New York)
NS-DC-0002-0001 | NS-DC-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0002-0002
Werner, Paul Elias (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0002-9000

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