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March 06, 2009

BREAKING: Supreme Court Dismisses al-Marri

Posted in: Legal,Uncategorized

Update: Christy now has a little more on this:

SCOTUSblog says:

The Supreme Court on Friday wiped out a lower court ruling that gave the President authority to detain indefinitely individuals living in the United States as terrorism suspects. The order also approved transfer of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri from military custody to civilian custody for a trial on criminal charges in civilian court.

Slip opinion has not yet been posted on the SCOTUS website. Christy now has text of the slip opinion in AL-MARRI v. SPAGONE.

. . . Christy has now added: 

UPDATE #2: Thinking there might be a question or two on this, what the order above means is that the Fourth Circuit decision that the president can detain a defendant indefinitely now can no longer be used as a precedent for future action. Meaning it cannot be relied upon to provide legal cover in the future.

For more on vacating judgments, albeit more in the civil context than criminal, this NYtimes article does a good job laying out the particulars, including:

A vacated decision is not literally destroyed; it can still be found in the courthouse where it was first issued, if anyone knows to look for it there. But its effect as a precedent has been wiped away.

* * *

The decision by the US Supreme Court in the case of Ali al-Marri is just hitting the wires. FDL’s legal eagles will have more on the decision shortly, but for now, here’s what we know. . . .

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed accused al Qaeda operative Ali al-Marri’s challenge to his indefinite military imprisonment, a week after President Barack Obama ordered him moved into the U.S. justice system to face newly filed criminal charges.

The court dismissed Marri’s case on whether terrorism suspects can be held without charges in the United States after the Obama administration last week obtained a federal court indictment accusing him of providing material support to al Qaeda.

The justices in a brief order sided with Obama administration attorneys, who told the high court that Marri’s pending legal challenge had been rendered moot by his indictment.


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