U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest has overturned the “indefinite detention” part of the NDA.
A one-paragraph provision in the sprawling National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Obama Dec. 31, 2011, enables the Pentagon to detain suspected al-Qaida or Taliban members, members of “associated groups” and anyone who has “substantially supported” them until the “end of hostilities” against the terror groups.
A group of prominent journalists and academics including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, MIT professor and writer Noam Chomsky and Pentagon Papers source Daniel Ellsberg, having dubbed themselves the “Freedom Seven,” sued the government. on the grounds that they could have been held under the law’s broad provisions for detaining people associated with terrorists, and that was forcing them to change how they worked, with whom they talked, and who they met. Forrest said the law obviously has a “chilling effect” on free speech.
“Courts must safeguard core constitutional rights,” the judge wrote in her decision. “A long line of Supreme Court precedent adheres to that fundamental principle in unequivocal language. Although it is true that there are scattered cases — primarily decided during World War II — in which the Supreme Court sanctioned undue deference to the executive and legislative branches on constitutional questions, those cases are generally now considered an embarrassment.”
Any bets on how long before this is overturned on appeal? No matter, really. This is just the beginning, folks…