For Immediate Release
Constitution Project Applauds Administration Decision to Criminally Prosecute Al-Marri
Alleged "Enemy Combatant" Deserves His Day in Court
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has charged Ali Saleh
Kahlah al-Marri with conspiracy and material support for terrorism and
plans to prosecute him in a civilian criminal court. President Bush declared
Mr. Marri an "enemy combatant" in 2003 and the government has held him in a
military brig without charge since then. The Constitution Project applauds the
Obama administration's decision to conduct a criminal prosecution and give Mr.
Marri his day in court.
Mr. Marri, a legal U.S.
resident who was arrested at his home in Peoria,
Illinois, has challenged the then-Bush
administration's claim that it had the power to hold him indefinitely in
military detention without trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled argument
in Mr. Marri's lawsuit against the government for April 27, in which he alleges
that neither federal law nor the Constitution authorize his imprisonment. Mr.
Marri will now be transferred out of the military brig, and will have the
opportunity to defend himself in court and to invoke the criminal justice
protections the Constitution provides.
The following statement can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel, the
"The Constitution Project welcomes the Obama
administration's decision to prosecute Mr. Marri in a civilian criminal court.
For far too long, Mr. Marri's unconstitutional detention as an 'enemy
combatant' has undermined the rule of law and shamed Americans in the eyes of
the world. We call on the Obama administration to publicly renounce the Bush
administration's stunning claim that it had the power to hold a legal U.S. resident captured at his home in the United States
in military detention without ever giving him the chance to defend himself in
court. The Obama administration should seek to have the appellate court
decision upholding this policy vacated, so that the erroneous judicial opinion
upholding indefinite military detention without trial does not stand as court
The Constitution Project, joined by the Cato
Institute and the Rutherford Institute, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court on the merits of
Mr. Marri's case in January, urging the Court to strike
down as unconstitutional the indefinite military detention without trial of a legal
resident. In addition, the Constitution Project, joined by the
Rutherford Institute, previously had urged the High Court to accept
Mr. Marri's case for review. The Constitution Project firmly believes that the
Supreme Court should review Mr. Marri's case to make clear that the government
did not have authority to hold him in military custody without criminal
charges. At a minimum, the Justice Department should urge the courts to vacate
the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that
erroneously and narrowly upheld the government's authority to detain Mr. Marri
as an 'enemy combatant.'
Please contact Daniel Schuman,
Director of Communications and Counsel, if you would like to speak with an
expert or obtain additional information, at 202-580-6922 or dschuman@constitutionproject.
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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/.