Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Federal court reminds government that this "enemy combatant" is a citizen

Good news from a federal court today: a federal judge has ruled that the Department of Justice must either charge Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen classified as an "enemy combatant" (though he was arrested on U.S. soil rather than a foreign battlefield like Yaser Hamdi and John Walker Lindh) and held for the last 2 1/2 years, with a crime or release him. I'm all for defending this country from terrorists, but making the government own up to having incarcerated this man, a U.S. citizen, for 2 1/2 years is a good thing. While it can be argued that Constitutional protection of the rights to due process, speedy trials, habeas corpus, etc. may or may not apply equally to non-citizens, there can be no question that those rights are specifically protected for U.S. citizen (did I mention that Jose Padilla is a citizen?), and the government should be held to act accordingly. It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court actually takes a stand on this case, given that the most recent ruling was by a federal court in South Carolina - the Supremes sidestepped the case the first time a federal court ordered Padilla to be charged and released when they avoided agreeing or disagreeing with the federal court in saying that Padilla should have pursued his appeal in South Carolina (where Padilla is being held) instead of New York (silly me in thinking that a federal court was a federal court, no matter what state the judges meet in).


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