December 27, 2016
In a matter referred by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Weil submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in three high-profile cases involving the detention in prolonged solitary confinement of Arab and Muslim immigrants rounded up in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The cases, Ziglar v. Abbasi, et al., Ashcroft v. Abbasi, et al. and Hasty v. Abbasi, et al., were brought against high-level members of the Bush administration, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and against New York corrections officials by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of plaintiffs held in extreme and punitive conditions for two-and-a-half to eight months based solely on their being, or being perceived to be, Muslim or Arab and having committed certain violations of civil immigration laws.
The brief sought to demonstrate the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus, spanning decades and countries, that virtually unanimously concludes that prolonged solitary confinement causes severe psychological and physiological damage. The brief further explained that, in acknowledgment of the intense pain and suffering caused by solitary confinement, international legal standards and the laws of other countries restrict its use to a measure of last resort. Those laws would prohibit the imposition of solitary confinement (i) based on race or religion, (ii) based on the pretext of immigration violations, or (iii) as a measure of first, not last, resort, as occurred in the Abbasi cases.
The brief was submitted on behalf of nineteen prominent medical and other scientific and health-related professionals from all over the world, including a member of the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, experts from the World Health Organization and World Psychiatric Association, preeminent psychologists and psychiatrists, prison health services experts, neuroscientists, physicians and medical professors.
The Weil team was led by Eric Ordway and included special legal consultant Glenda Bleiberg, associates Jessica Djilani, Kami Lizarraga, Jay Minga, Brendan O'Callaghan, Nigar Shaikh, Alexandria Swette and Elizabeth Velez.