The Obama administration is defending former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and his FBI director Robert Mueller III in the U.S. Supreme Court over claims they are liable for their roles in the roundup and detention of Muslim, Arab and South Asian men following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In Ashcroft v. Turkmen, the administration is asking the high court to review a June 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstating claims by eight men and a potential class of dozens that the former Bush officials purposely and unconstitutionally directed their detentions in harsh and abusive conditions based on their race, religion or national origin.

A related petition raising similar issues has been filed by William McDaniel Jr., a partner with Ballard Spahr, on behalf of former Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner James Ziglar.

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