Gavel Grab

Judge Strikes Down Indefinite Detention Provision

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan has struck down a highly controversial portion of the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act. The disputed provision authorizes indefinite military detention for people considered to have “substantially supported” al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.”

Political activists, scholars and journalists challenging the law have voiced legitimate fears  that they could be detained indefinitely over exercises of their First Amendment rights, the judge said, according to an Associated Press article.

“First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be legislated away,” Judge Forrest wrote. “This Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention.”

Judge Forrest had issued a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of the provision, earlier (see Gavel Grab). Her latest ruling is likely to be appealed to a higher court.

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