Less than 24 hours after a federal judge in New York ruled the federal government could not indefinitely detain “suspected” terrorists, the Obama administration asked a court to suspend the ruling.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest on Wednesday struck down the anti-terrorism law, passed as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, that she called unconstitutional in its provisions for indefinite military detention.
The law allows detention of people suspected of “substantially” or “directly” providing support to groups such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. A group of political activists, journalists and scholars took the federal government to court over the law, citing concerns they could end up being held for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Government lawyers called such concerns unfounded, but Forrest said in her ruling Wednesday that she found them legitimate.
In court papers filed Friday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan asked for a stay of the decision while the government appeals.
The law concerns “the president’s exercise of his commander-in-chief power in the context of the United States’ current combat operations against al-Qaida, the Taliban and their associated forces,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Torrance and Christopher Harwood wrote. “The court’s injunction against the exercise of those war powers … should be stayed.”
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