Monday, June 11, 2007



In a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism, a federal appeals court ordered the Pentagon to release a man being held as an enemy combatant.

To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “even if the President calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.”
“We refuse to recognize a claim to power,” Judge Motz added, “that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.”

The ruling was handed down by a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., in the case of Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar and the only person on the American mainland known to be held as an enemy combatant.

Rumpole says: About time.


Anonymous said...

Particularly interesting coming from the Fourth, which is easily the most right wing of the appellate courts.

the trialmaster said...

the trialmaster has argued cases before the 4th.

Anonymous said...

Very boring issue for the Blog.

Lewis Powell said...

Not the 4th district, trialmaster, the 4th Circuit. The former is a state appellate court, housed in WPB. The latter is a federal appellate court housed in Virginia. Based upon your posts, I'd bet you've never even seen the inside of the federal court of appeals, no less had your palms on the lectern in Virginia.

SWLiP said...

So, if we had captured Mohammed Atta on the eve of 9/11, the POTUS would have had no authority to declare him an illegal combatant?

The 4th Circuit's reasoning is appealing, but to paraphrase a great jurist, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.