U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins seems to have just shredded the president’s authority to designate terrorist groups: (hat tip: John Stephenson)
A federal judge struck down
President Bush’s authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.
The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush’s order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as “specially designated global terrorists” after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists,” said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. “It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era.”
The case centered on two groups, the Liberation Tigers, which seeks a separate homeland for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan, a political organization representing the interests of Kurds in Turkey.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins enjoined the government from blocking the assets of the two groups…
…A White House spokeswoman declined to immediately comment. At the time of his order creating the list, Bush declared that the “grave acts of terrorism” and the “continuing and immediate threat of future attacks” constituted a national emergency.
The judge’s 45-page ruling was a reversal of her own tentative findings last July in which she indicated she would uphold wide powers asserted by Bush under an anti-terror financing law. She delayed her ruling then to allow more legal briefs to be filed.
She also struck down the provision in which Bush had authorized the secretary of the treasury to designate anyone who “assists, sponsors or provides services to” or is “otherwise associated with” a designated group.
However, she let stand sections of the order that penalize those who provide “services” to designated terrorist groups. She said such services would include the humanitarian aid and rights training proposed by the plaintiffs.
This same judge ruled parts of the Patriot Act unconstitutional that barred giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated international terrorist organizations in 2004. The same plaintiff and lawyer–David Cole and the Humanitarian Law Project representing the Liberation Tigers and the PKK–were involved in that case as in the present one. Michael Radu had a thorough analysis of the 2004 ruling and the plaintiffs here.
His conclusion then holds now:
One can only hope that Judge Collins will be overruled, if not by her colleagues on the Ninth Circuit (yes, miracles do happen), then by the Supreme Court. But regardless of what happens, we can draw valuable observations from these developments. The War on Terror has numerous fronts, many of them, unfortunately, within America itself, where sympathetic lawyers, “human rights” militants and inane judges can be the most dedicated enemies to national security.
Not seeing much comment on law blogs on the new ruling. Would really like to hear reactions from legal types.
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