Conservative Groups Oppose Indefinite Detention of U.S. Resident in U.S. Prison
Turns out that even conservatives can’t stomach the indefinite detention of a lawful U.S. resident, without charge, in an American prison.
In an amicus brief filed today in federal court, the libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative Rutherford Institute, along with the bipartisan Constitution Project, are urging the Obama administration to reverse course on the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri.
As we’ve reported before, FBI agents arrested al-Marri, a 28-year-old father of five who was legally living with his family in Peoria, Ill., in 2003 and imprisoned him in a U.S. Navy brig in South Carolina. He’s been held there without charge for the last five years as a so-called “enemy combatant” — a situation the Bush administration consistently contended was perfectly legal.
The Obama administration, in an executive order last week, announced it would review al-Marri’s case — the only known instance of a legal U.S. resident being held indefinitely, and without charge, within U.S. borders. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had accepted the Bush administration’s position in the case and allowed it to keep holding al-Marri for as long as it wanted; the U.S. Supreme Court has since agreed to hear the case.
The Obama administration successfully sought an extension of time to respond to al-Marri’s petition to the Supreme Court. The Justice Department’s brief is now due in mid-March, and the case is scheduled for argument on April 20.
Many legal experts watching the proceedings have predicted that the Obama administration will move al-Marri into the criminal justice system before the Supreme Court gets a chance to decide it.