The White House has asked the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to place an emergency stay on a ruling made last week by a federal judge so that the president’s power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge is reaffirmed immediately.
On Wednesday, September 12, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest made permanent a temporary injunction she issued in May that bars the federal government from abiding by the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA. Judge Forrest ruled that a clause that gives the government the power to arrest US citizens suspected of maintaining alliances with terrorists and hold them without due process violated the Constitution and that the White House would be stripped of that ability immediately.
Only hours after Judge Forrest issued last week’s ruling, the Obama administration threatened to appeal the decision, and on Monday morning they followed through.
At around 9 a.m. Monday, September 17, the White House filed an emergency stay in federal appeals court in an effort to have the Second Circuit strip away Judge Forrest’s ruling from the week earlier.
“Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision,” writes Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist that is listed as the lead plaintiff in the case. According to Hedges, the government called Judge Forrest’s most recent ruling an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope,” and Executive Branch attorneys worked into the weekend to find a way to file their stay.
“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” Hedges writes. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.”
“A Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued Friday claiming that the riots [in the Middle East] are likely to come to the US and saying that DHS is looking for the Islamic leaders of these likely riots,” Afran tells Hedges. “It is my view that this is why the government wants to reopen the NDAA — so it has a tool to round up would-be Islamic protesters before they can launch any protest, violent or otherwise. Right now there are no legal tools to arrest would-be protesters. The NDAA would give the government such power. Since the request to vacate the injunction only comes about on the day of the riots, and following the DHS bulletin, it seems to me that the two are connected. The government wants to reopen the NDAA injunction so that they can use it to block protests.”
Monday morning, Hedges once more responded to the White House’s relentless attempts to reauthorize powers granted under the NDAA, asking, “If the administration is this anxious to restore this section of the NDAA, is it because the Obama government has already used it? Or does it have plans to use the section in the immediate future?”