Justice Ginsburg denies request to block indefinite detention law

Justice Ginsburg denies request to block indefinite detention law

Photo source or description

[JURIST] US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday refused the request for a stay in Hedges v. Obama [docket; JURIST report] that would have temporarily blocked enforcement of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) [text, PDF]. A group of reporters and advocates filed [JURIST report] an emergency appeal [text, PDF] with Ginsburg Thursday in the hopes of blocking the law pending consideration by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website]. Ginsburg, in a note on the docket rather than a published order, denied the application to vacate that order, citing her previous denial of an application to vacate a stay in Doe v. Gonzales [opinion, PDF]:

I am mindful, first, that ‘interference with an interim order of a court of appeals cannot be justified solely because [a Circuit Justice] disagrees about the harm a party may suffer.’ Respect for the assessment of the Court of Appeals is especially warranted when that court is proceeding to adjudication on the merits with due expedition.

The NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists overseas, and opponents of the law claim it would stifle journalists’ and activists’ free speech and association rights by impinging on their work with terror suspects. 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.

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.