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Indefinite detention law appealed to Supreme Court

Opponents of a law allowing the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists on Wednesday filed an emergency appeal [text, PDF] with US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to block the law's enforcement. A group of seven individuals and one organization had challenged the law claiming it would stifle journalists' free speech and association rights. Judge Katherine Forrest of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] enforcement of section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) [text, PDF] in May, finding that it violates the First Amendment [text]. She then issued a permanent injunction [JURIST report] in September. However, in October the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] stayed [JURIST report] Forrest's injunction, allowing the law to take effect while the government's appeal goes forward. Ginsburg can now issue a decision on her own or consult with her colleagues at the Supreme Court.

Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA affirms the authority of the president under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to detain indefinitely any "person who was a part of or substantially supported al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces." President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law [JURIST report] on December 31, 2011. Upon signing, he noted [statement], "I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation." Both houses of Congress reached an agreement [JURIST report] on the language of the NDAA's most controversial sections in mid-December.

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