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Rachel Myers, National ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
ACLU In Court Today To Challenge Firing Of Former Guantánamo Prosecutor By Library Of Congress
Col. Morris Davis Illegally Fired For Speaking Out About Military Commissions
WASHINGTON - January 19 - The
American Civil Liberties Union was in federal court in Washington, D.C.
today, seeking an injunction to compel the Library of Congress to
reinstate Col. Morris Davis to his job at the Library’s Congressional
Research Service (CRS). Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the
Guantánamo military commissions, was terminated from his job as the
Assistant Director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division
at CRS because of opinion pieces he wrote about the military
commissions system that ran in the Wall Street Journal and the
Washington Post in November. 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.
“Col. Davis didn’t give up his right to express himself about the military commissions when he went to work for the Library of Congress,” said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. “We are hopeful the court will recognize that the Library violated Col. Davis’s First Amendment rights when it fired him, as well as the right of the public to hear his opinions on a matter of such importance and ongoing public debate. We hope that by this time tomorrow, the Library will reinstate Col. Davis to his former job.”
In meetings that followed the publishing of the opinion pieces, Davis's supervisor at CRS, Daniel Mulhollan, informed Davis that as a result of the pieces his employment would be terminated. Davis was then transferred to a temporary 30-day position at CRS, which will expire tomorrow, January 20.
On January 8, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Mulhollan and James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, charging that CRS violated Davis's right to free speech and due process when it fired him for speaking as a private citizen about matters of public concern having nothing to do with his responsibilities at CRS. The ACLU today asked Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction by January 20 to compel the Library to reinstate Davis to his former job and to block it from hiring a permanent replacement for that position in the interim.
“My former position in the military commissions is completely unrelated to my work at the Congressional Research Service, and my opinions about the commissions don’t interfere with my ability to do my work at CRS,” said Davis. “I am hopeful the court will issue a ruling by tomorrow recognizing my right to express my opinions in my personal capacity without losing my job. CRS provides an incredibly valuable service to Congress, and I hope to continue to serve my country by working there.”
In addition to Fine, attorneys on the case are Alexander Abdo, Jameel Jaffer and Mariko Hirose of the national ACLU and Arthur Spitzer and Frederick Mulhauser of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.
More information about the case, Davis v. Billington, is available online at: www.aclu.org/free-speech/