[New York, NY] Judge Katherine Forrest ruled yesterday that the so-called “indefinite detention” provision (subsection 1021) of the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) violates the Constitution and issued a permanent injunction against its application.
The law would have allowed the military to indefinitely detain civilians without charge or trial if they are accused of certain crimes, or even accused of associations with certain listed forces. Judge Forrest in her ruling reaffirmed that to criminalize one’s associative conduct in this manner could chill the first amendment protections of journalists who may want to conduct interviews with individuals listed by the government as extremists.
The lead plaintiff in this lawsuit is former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges. He is joined by six others, including Noam Chomsky and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
“This is a tremendous victory for the rule of law and the right of all U.S. citizens, regardless of their ideological persuasions, to be afforded due process. It restores the two century ban on the use of the military by the state for domestic policing. Judge Katherine Forrest, in an era when federal judges often seem to issue rulings about why they cannot implement the law, has with this injunction restored one of our most cherished Constitutional rights. The Obama administration will no doubt appeal this decision. We will continue to fight back. It is not over yet. But I, and I hope all Americans, can sleep a little more easily tonight,” said Chris Hedges this morning when asked about Judge Forrest’s ruling.
Attorney for the plaintiffs, Carl J. Mayer had a bold message to share with the President regarding any possible plans to appeal the administration may have, “President, and former Constitutional Law Professor Obama, knows that the so-called Homeland Battlefield Act or NDAA is unconstitutional and we are calling on him and his Attorney General to drop any appeal in this case and honor the opinion of the President’s own appointee: Judge Katherine Forrest. September 12 was an important day in American history; it is rare for the Court’s to declare an Act of Congress unconstitutional. But as the Judge noted, ‘the stakes could not be higher’ and fortunately the citizens, our democracy and the Constitution remain triumphant.”
Plaintiff and Iceland Parlamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir shared a unique perspective that, “With Judge Forrest ruling, the USA halted, even if only for a brief moment the alarming erosion of civil liberties since 911. I feel proud to be part of such a historical ruling in favor of the basic freedoms that used to be the legacy of the USA. This case is a perfect example some individuals make a difference in our world.”
“Forrest’s ruling understands that the most fundamental crisis of Government is a crisis of trust in the institutions of Government (checks & balances). The Executive spins its fatal sophistry, while disloyal and incompetent interests usurped our nation’s civil and military power, spawning a host of real threats to liberty and to national security. They passing laws, like the NDAA, which prey on the resources and spirits of citizens. Thanks to Forrest, we persevere…” exclaimed activist, journalist, and plaintiff Alexa O’Brien.
According to plaintiff and activist Tangerine Bolen, “The steady assault on the US Constitution was dramatically slowed yesterday, as Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in our favor and against a dangerous and unconstitutional provision of the NDAA. After eleven years of watching our civil liberties erode we have reason to celebrate this week.”
Plaintiffs fear that Obama will continue to defend the law, by choosing to appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Activist group Demand Progress — whose million-plus members have helped support the lawsuit — urged Americans to demand that Obama not appeal the ruling, and that senators oppose indefinite detention when it comes up for a vote this fall.
You can sign their petition and email your senators at: http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/ndaa_lawsuit_win/
Demand Progress executive director David Segal said, “It’s wonderful to see judge Forrest — a recent Obama appointee — buck the administration and stand up for the Constitution. Our members urge Obama to stop defending this obscene abuse of executive authority, and ask our senators to oppose indefinite detention when they vote on the NDAA later this fall.”
You can read Judge Forrest’s entire statement HERE
UPDATE: (2pm EST 9/13/2012) the staff of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara made an appearance at the Federal Courthouses at 500 Pearl Street in New York City to file a notice of appeal on behalf of the Obama Administration. The notice should read as a clear indication of the administrations intentions to appeal Judge Forrest’s decision to a higher court.