Lock 'Em Up and Throw Away the Key


Does the Commander in Chief have the constitutional authority to order the indefinite detention of someone living in the United States? As The New York Times' Adam Liptak reports, the Supreme Court agreed today to hear the case of Al al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar who was studying computer science at Illinois' Bradley University when he was arrested in December 2001. As Liptak writes:

Eighteen months later, when Mr. Marri was on the verge of a trial on credit card fraud and other charges, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant, moving him from the custody of the Justice Department to military detention. The government says Mr. Marri is a Qaeda sleeper agent sent to the United States to commit mass murder and disrupt the banking system.

The case, which will probably be argued in the spring, will present the Obama administration with several difficult strategic choices. It can continue to defend the Bush administration's expansive interpretation of executive power, advance a more modest one or short-circuit the case by moving it to the criminal justice system.

Whole thing here. Back in July, Robert Levy looked at the Court's landmark ruling on habeas corpus and Guantanamo Bay, and in June Gene Healy chronicled the radical expansion of executive power from the Founding era to the George W. Bush administration.