For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

James Freedland, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Supreme Court Vacates Decision Giving President Indefinite Detention Power In Al-Marri Case

WASHINGTON - The
U.S. Supreme Court today vacated a lower court decision giving the
president the extraordinary power to seize and indefinitely detain U.S.
citizens or residents without charge or trial. The case was brought by
the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Ali Saleh Kahlah
al-Marri, who, after being held for almost six years in military
detention, was indicted last week in federal court and charged with two
counts of material support for terrorism.

In July 2008, the full U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in a fractured decision that the
president had legal authority to imprison al-Marri indefinitely without
charge. As one judge noted in dissent, however, to accept the
government's claim of extraordinary detention power would have
"disastrous consequences for the Constitution-and the country." The
Supreme Court vacated that decision and dismissed the case as moot.

The following can be attributed to
Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project
and lead counsel in al-Marri's case:

"While we would have preferred a
Supreme Court ruling that U.S. citizens and lawful residents detained
in the U.S. cannot be held in military custody as 'enemy combatants'
without charges or trial, the Supreme Court nonetheless took an
important step today by vacating a lower court decision that had upheld
the Bush administration's authority to designate al-Marri as an 'enemy
combatant.' Congress never granted the president that authority and the
Constitution does not permit it. We trust that the Obama administration
will not repeat the abuses of the Bush administration having now chosen
to prosecute Mr. al-Marri in federal court rather than defend the Bush
administration's actions in this case." 

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