ACLU Sues Library Of Congress On Behalf Of Former Guantánamo Prosecutor

For Immediate Release

ACLU Sues Library Of Congress On Behalf Of Former Guantánamo Prosecutor

Col. Morris Davis Fired For Speaking Out About Military Commissions

NEW YORK - The
American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit against the
Library of Congress on behalf of Col. Morris Davis, the former chief
prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions, who was terminated
from his job at the Library's Congressional Research Service (CRS)
because of opinion pieces he wrote about the military commissions
system. The lawsuit charges that CRS violated Davis's right to free
speech and due process when it fired him for speaking as a private
citizen about matters having nothing to do with his responsibilities at
CRS.

"Col. Davis has a constitutional
right to speak about issues of which he has expert knowledge, and the
public has a right to hear from him," said Aden Fine, staff attorney
with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "Col. Davis's firsthand
experience is invaluable to the ongoing debate over military
commissions, and the public should not be denied the chance to hear
from him just because he is a public employee."

After 25 years in the United States
Air Force, Davis resigned from his position as chief prosecutor in the
military commissions in October 2007 because of his belief that the
system was fundamentally flawed. He then became a vocal critic of the
commissions, writing articles, giving speeches and testifying before
Congress. In December 2008, Davis began working as the Assistant
Director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at CRS, a
position that is not related to the military commissions.

On November 11, 2009, the Wall
Street Journal published an opinion piece and the Washington Post
published a letter to the editor in which Davis argued against having a
two-tiered system of justice in which some Guantánamo detainees are
tried in military commissions and others in federal courts. Both pieces
were written by Davis in his personal capacity, made clear that he was
writing as a private individual and former chief prosecutor of the
military commissions and made no mention of CRS. Davis wrote the pieces
on his home computer during non-work hours. In meetings that followed,
Davis's supervisor at CRS, Daniel Mulhollan, informed Davis that as a
result of the pieces his employment would be terminated. Davis was
transferred to a temporary 30-day position at CRS, which will expire on
January 20.

"My status as the former chief
prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay and my
opinions on that subject are completely unrelated to my position at CRS
and totally separate from my duties there, and they don't interfere
with my ability to do my job," said Davis. "The work that CRS does is
incredibly valuable and I am proud of the opportunity to continue
serving my country after a career in the military. I hope to be
reinstated to my original position so I can continue to support
Congress at this critical time in our nation's history."

In response to a letter from the
ACLU in December, the Library of Congress stated that it would not
reinstate Davis to his job at CRS. Today's lawsuit seeks to reinstate
Davis to his position and to reaffirm that governmental employees,
including employees of the Library of Congress, may not be terminated
for speaking in their private capacities on matters of great public
concern.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit against
James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, and Mulhollan in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia. Attorneys on the case are
Fine, Alexander Abdo and Jameel Jaffer of the national ACLU and Arthur
Spitzer and Frederick Mulhauser of the ACLU of the National Capital
Area.

The ACLU's complaint is available online at: www.aclu.org/free-speech/davis-v-billington-complaint

More information about the case is available online at: www.aclu.org/free-speech/davis-v-billington

 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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