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The president has the authority to detain people without charge, the Supreme Court decided today, dismissing a challenge by suspected al-Qaeda operative Ali Al-Marri.
Last week, President Obama ordered al-Marri transferred from military to civilian custody to face federal charges of conspiracy and providing support to terrorists. For 5½ years he has been held as an enemy combatant in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. He can now be transferred to a civilian jail.
A vacated judgment makes the original judgment legally void. A vacated judgment is the result of the judgment of an appellate court which overturns, reverses, or sets aside the judgment of a lower court.
A trial court also has the power, under certain circumstances (usually involving fraud or lack of jurisdiction over the parties to a case) to vacate its own judgments. Relief from judgment in the United States district courts is governed by Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
A vacated judgment frees the parties to re-litigate the issues subject to the vacated judgment. Indeed the Seventh Circuit noted that a vacated judgment "place[s] the parties in the position of no trial having taken place at all." United States v. Williams, 904 F.2d 7, 8 (7th Cir. 1990).
The president has the authority to detain people without charge, the Supreme Court decided today,
In a statement in response to the high court action, ACLU staff attorney Jonathan Hafetz said,
“While we would have preferred a Supreme Court ruling that U.S. citizens and lawful residents detained in the U.S. cannot be held in military custody as 'enemy combatants' without charges or trial, the Supreme Court nonetheless took an important step today by vacating a lower court decision that had upheld the Bush administration's authority to designate al-Marri as an 'enemy combatant.' Congress never granted the president that authority and the Constitution does not permit it. We trust that the Obama administration will not repeat the abuses of the Bush administration having now chosen to prosecute Mr. al-Marri in federal court rather than defend the Bush administration's actions in this case."