For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
Brennan Center for Justice Files Brief in Jose Padilla Case
New York, NY An amicus (friend of the court) brief was filed today by the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Project at NYU School of Law in Jose Padilla v. Commander C.T. Hanft, supporting the District of South Carolina Court’s finding the detention of Jose Padilla to be in violation of the Constitution.
Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in May 2002 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and held as a material witness in a terrorism investigation. He was later declared to be an enemy combatant by the President. Padilla has been held in military detention at a naval brig in South Carolina ever since.
The brief argues that the separation of powers doctrine prohibits the military detention of U.S. citizens arrested on U.S. soil absent clear authorization from Congress, and that no such authorization has been given. The brief focuses on the Executive’s failure to engage the democratic process in this case and the resulting consequences: the putative national security concerns behind the Executive’s decision to place Padilla in military detention have not been fully articulated to and evaluated by Congress; more carefully tailored ways of addressing those concerns have not been explored through the legislative process; and the courts have been left without sufficient tools for meaningful judicial review of the Executive’s detention policy.
The Padilla case raises the important question whether an American citizen arrested on American soil may be placed under indefinite military detention based on an executive determination that he is involved in terrorist activity.
Padilla’s detention was originally challenged in federal court in the Southern District of New York. In June 2004, however, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge on technical grounds, finding that the petition needed to be brought in the District of South Carolina, where Padilla is being detained. Pursuant to that ruling, Padilla’s counsel has since renewed their challenge to his detention in the District of South Carolina, and the district court earlier this year ruled for Padilla, finding his detention to be in violation of the Constitution. That ruling is presently on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The brief was authored by Serrin Turner, Associate Counsel for the Liberty & National Security Project, and Burt Neuborne, Legal Director of the Brennan Center.