Constitution Project Applauds Supreme Court Cert. Grant in al-Marri Case

For Immediate Release

The Constitution Project
Contact: 

Daniel Schuman 202-580-6922;   dschuman@constitutionproject.org

Constitution Project Applauds Supreme Court Cert. Grant in al-Marri Case

WASHINGTON - The Constitution Project is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court granted review today of al-Marri v. Pucciarelli to examine the Bush administration's indefinite military detention without trial of a legal resident.

The Constitution Project, together with the Rutherford Institute, filed a friend of the court brief
urging the Court to take the case to provide clarity on the scope of
the executive branch's detention power. The Constitution Project, an
independent bipartisan think tank, and the Rutherford Institute, an
international civil liberties organization, both seek to promote and
defend constitutional safeguards and civil liberties.

"The Supreme Court's decision to grant review will compel the incoming Obama administration to quickly focus on detention policy," said Sharon Bradford Franklin,
Senior Counsel at the Constitution Project. "We hope that
President-Elect Obama will resoundingly reject the current
administration's breathtaking claim that the United States may hold a
civilian in military detention indefinitely. The new administration
should either charge or release Mr. al-Marri."

At issue in al-Marri v. Pucciarelli is
whether the military has the authority to detain Ali Saleh Kahlah
al-Marri. Mr. Al-Marri, a legal resident, was arrested at his home in Peoria, Illinois, and was transferred to military detention in South Carolina.
He has been held for the past five years on the administration's claim
that he is an "enemy combatant" and that the executive branch has
inherent and statutory authority to detain civilians within the on that basis.

In
a five-to-four vote this July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit narrowly overturned a three-judge panel that had held that Mr.
al-Marri should either be freed or charged as a civilian. Instead, in a
fractured opinion, the en banc panel upheld the president's
authority to hold him in military detention without charge. A different
five-to-four alignment of the judges concluded that he has the right to
additional proceedings to determine whether he is an enemy combatant.

The
friend of the court brief also encouraged the Supreme Court to take
this case on the grounds that the executive branch has consistently
maneuvered to evade Supreme Court review of its broad claims of
detention authority. Only two business days before the administration's
brief opposing Supreme Court review was due in the Padilla
"enemy combatant" case, the Bush administration switched tactics and
charged Jose Padilla in a civilian court. The Constitution Project's
brief explains that the Court now has an opportunity to address the
same expansive claim of domestic military detention authority raised in
Padilla, and urges the Court to take the case and reject this unconstitutional claim.

To speak with an expert, please contact Daniel Schuman at dschuman(at)constitutionproject.org or call 202-580-6922.

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The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.

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