Appeals court says Feds can't detain without trial. White House begs them to reconsider.

David Kravets at Wired News writes on today's demand by the Obama administration that a federal appeals court immediately halt a ruling that blocks legislation authorizing the government to "indefinitely detain without trial individuals, including U.S. citizens, who are deemed to 'substantially support' groups 'engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.'” The administration maintains the lower court’s ruling is a “dangerous” threat to national security, but the court found the rule so vague it could apply to U.S. citizens and journalists exercising constitutional rights. (PDF)


  1. The first group of people to be detained under this legislation, if not deemed unconstitutional, should be the Administration itself. After all, by supporting this legislation, they are should be  deemed to ‘substantially support’ groups ‘engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.’

  2. So they ruled that the Constitution is the law of the land? Wow, who could have seen that coming? If we would have seen this story 15 years ago we would have thought it came straight out of the Onion.

  3. I’d just point out the headline is inaccurate, as yet. The injunction was applied at the district level. The administration’s filing is an appeal of the district court’s ruling.

  4. Could someone explain why in these scenarios there is such a emphasis on “US citizen”? Has a non-USian in the US, e.g. a Canadian shopping in NY, not the same civil rights and protections like a US citizen? Where I live (Germany) everyone is equal before the law – citizen or not. 

    1. First way of answering this is that the US Constitution clearly says that US citizens get trials with due process. I don’t think it specifies how the government is supposed to treat non-citizens.

      The second way of answering is that Americans barely care enough to defend the civil rights of US citizens. All others are viewed as second-class world citizens, if not subhumans.

      1. History taught us a lesson – the hard way: don’t start making exceptions for a group of humans with regards to equality before the law and civil rights. 

        Perhaps it’s time the US takes a page out of our textbook…

      2. Actually, the Constitution doesn’t even imply that only U.S. citizens get due process.  The Fifth Amendment says that, “…no person…(shall) be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;”

          1. I hate, I mean really hate, that your more cynical explanation is actually supported by the facts. It’s a sad thing.

  5. I look forward to all the mainstream interviews with the president where he’s grilled incessantly about DOJ decisions like this. Or prosecution of whistleblowers, warrantless wiretapping/data collection, extra-judicial authorizations of force, drone strikes, increased drug prosecution, executive interference with free speech issues… The list seems endless these days.

    Hah hah hah. Who am I kidding? We’ll just get more journalistic fellatio like the latest offerings from Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, etc.  i.e. “Being the president sure is hard!”

  6. It’s too bad they don’t have, like, a Constitutional law scholar somewhere around the White House to help understand which policies are clearly unconstitutional. They should try Craigslist or something and find one.

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