Constitution Project Applauds Administration’s Decision To Criminally Prosecute al-Marri

For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Schuman 202-580-6922 dschuman@constitutionproject.org

Washington, D.C. – The Obama administration has charged Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri with conspiracy and material support for terrorism and plans to prosecute him in a civilian criminal court. President Bush declared Mr. Marri an “enemy combatant” in 2003 and the government has held him in a military brig without charge since then. The Constitution Project applauds the Obama administration’s decision to conduct a criminal prosecution and give Mr. Marri his day in court.

Mr. Marri, a legal U.S. resident who was arrested at his home in Peoria, Illinois, has challenged the then-Bush administration’s claim that it had the power to hold him indefinitely in military detention without trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled argument in Mr. Marri’s lawsuit against the government for April 27, in which he alleges that neither federal law nor the Constitution authorize his imprisonment. Mr. Marri will now be transferred out of the military brig, and will have the opportunity to defend himself in court and to invoke the criminal justice protections the Constitution provides.

The following statement can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel, the Constitution Project:

“The Constitution Project welcomes the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute Mr. Marri in a civilian criminal court. For far too long, Mr. Marri’s unconstitutional detention as an ‘enemy combatant’ has undermined the rule of law and shamed Americans in the eyes of the world. We call on the Obama administration to publicly renounce the Bush administration’s stunning claim that it had the power to hold a legal U.S. resident captured at his home in the United States in military detention without ever giving him the chance to defend himself in court. The Obama administration should seek to have the appellate court decision upholding this policy vacated, so that the erroneous judicial opinion upholding indefinite military detention without trial does not stand as court precedent.”

The Constitution Project, joined by the Cato Institute and the Rutherford Institute, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court on the merits of Mr. Marri’s case in January, urging the Court to strike down as unconstitutional the indefinite military detention without trial of a legal U.S. resident. In addition, the Constitution Project, joined by the Rutherford Institute, previously had urged the High Court to accept Mr. Marri’s case for review. The Constitution Project firmly believes that the Supreme Court should review Mr. Marri’s case to make clear that the government did not have authority to hold him in military custody without criminal charges. At a minimum, the Justice Department should urge the courts to vacate the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that erroneously and narrowly upheld the government’s authority to detain Mr. Marri as an ‘enemy combatant.’

Please contact Daniel Schuman, Director of Communications and Counsel, if you would like to speak with an expert or obtain additional information, at 202-580-6922 or dschuman@constitutionproject.org.

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