'I Do Not Think [Implausible] Means What You Think It Means': Ashcroft v. IQBAL and Judicial Vouching for Government Officials

15 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2010 Last revised: 29 Mar 2010

Tung Yin

Lewis & Clark Law School

Date Written: February 24, 2010

Abstract

The Supreme Court's use of a "plausibility" standard to order the dismissal of a plaintiff's civil rights action in Ashcroft v. Iqbal has been criticized on a variety of grounds. In this Article, I argue that even if Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does and should contain such a plausibility standard, the application of that standard to Iqbal's allegations is utterly unpersuasive. The Court could have used qualified immunity to grant relief to the government-official defendants instead of declaring implausible Iqbal's allegation that he was subjected to harsh detention conditions due to his being Pakistani and Muslim. There are, in the pages of the federal reporters, decisions in which trial and appellate courts have sustained civil rights complaints against motions to dismiss. Those complaints, like Iqbal's, alleged conspiracies to target persons based on race or other such characteristics. Therefore, the Court's decision in Iqbal can, in essence, only be understood as vouching improperly that these defendants would not have acted in the ways alleged.

Keywords: Iqbal, civil rights, 42 U.S.C. section 1983, Rule 12(b)(6), motion to dismiss, plausible

Suggested Citation

Yin, Tung, 'I Do Not Think [Implausible] Means What You Think It Means': Ashcroft v. IQBAL and Judicial Vouching for Government Officials (February 24, 2010). Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 14, p. 203, 2010; Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1558532

Tung Yin (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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