28 Feb US Government Ordered to Release Padilla or Charge Him
In this opinion handed down today, Judge Henry Floyd of the US District Court in Charleston granted Jose Padilla’s habeas petition, explicitly rejecting the government’s position that the President has broad powers to detain US citizens as enemy combatants. The government has 45 days to charge Padilla with a crime, hold him as a material witness, or release him. Here’s a quote from the judge’s conclusions of law, which relies on Youngstown and Hamdi:
It is true that there may be times during which it is necessary to give the Executive Branch greater power than at other times. Such a granting of power, however, is in the province of the legislature and no one else — not the Court and not the President. “The Founders of this Nation entrusted the law making power to the Congress alone in both good and bad times.” Youngstown, 343 U.S. at 589. “[A] state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.” Hamdi, 124 S.Ct. at 2650 (internal citation omitted). Simply stated, this is a law enforcement matter, not a military matter.