For Immediate Release
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 - 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/
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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.