A judge for the US District Court Southern District of New York [official website] ruled [opinion] Wednesday that the US government cannot hold people indefinitely, relying on the National Defense Authorization Act [text, PDF] of 2011, for their alleged connection to al Qaeda if they are not connected to the 9/11 attacks. Judge Katherine Forrest issued an opinion and order meant to clarify the injunction [opinion, PDF] she placed on this controversial act [JURIST report] last month. Forrest emphasized that the original injunction should not be interpreted narrowly [NYT report], as the government suggests, but applied broadly. The government had interpreted the injunction as only applying to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The order stated:
[P]laintiffs in this case hail from across the nation, and as noted above, they represent the interests of similarly situated individuals not party to this case. Moreover, although the Fourth Circuit also noted that individual circuits should generally refrain from issuing nationwide injunctions to allow other courts to reach separate conclusions about the constitutionality of the same statute, the stakes in this case differ.The lawsuit was brought by journalists and activists who protested against the National Defense Authorization Act.
Since 2001, anti-terrorism laws and military detentions in the US have been the subject of much controversy and litigation. Last month federal prosecutors asked Forrest to lift the injunction [JURIST report] she placed earlier in May. Forrest agreed with a group of reporters who claimed that the law was vague and violated their First Amendment [text] rights to freedom of speech and Fifth Amendment [text] due process rights.