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ACLJ: Supreme Court to Decide Who Will Run War on Terrorism - Federal Courts or Commander-in-Chief.

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The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed an amicus brief supporting the position of the Department of Justice in a case involving the detention of enemy combatants in Cuba, said today's oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court were "troubling" and opened the door to "the alarming prospect of subjecting military decisions involving the war on terrorism to the federal courts."

"It is troubling that a number of Justices may want to interject the judiciary into military operations and usurp the President's constitutional authority in matters of war," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, who attended oral arguments today. "This case should hinge on the constitutional issue involving the separation of powers. However, it is apparent from the questioning at oral argument that we, as a nation, could be faced with the alarming prospect of subjecting military decisions involving the war on terrorism to the federal courts - a move that would weaken the constitution and make it much more difficult to wage an effective war to protect Americans from further acts of terrorism. The question now before the court: Who will run the war on terrorism? Will it be hundreds of U.S. District Court judges across America, or the President as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces?"

Sekulow added: "It is our hope that the Supreme Court follows its own precedent and the constitution and determines that such a decision-making role for our military rests with the President - not the courts."

The ACLJ filed an amicus brief in the cases of Rasul v. Bush and Al Odah v. Bush. (Case Nos. 03-334 & 03-343) on behalf of itself and its two affiliate organizations: The European Centre for Law and Justice, an organization that deals with human rights issues in Europe and based in Strasbourg, France, and the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice, a human rights organization based in Moscow, Russia.

The brief, posted at, contends that the detainees - which include members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda - are unlawful combatants - and therefore not subject to the protections afforded by the Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of Prisoners of War. Further, the brief contends that President Bush, as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Armed Forces, acted appropriately and constitutionally in ordering the detainees to be held in Cuba.

The brief states that "the Guantanamo detainees are not criminal suspects. Rather, they are enemy combatants captured during the ongoing war on terrorism. Their detention is preventive - to ensure that they do not again take up arms against United States forces - not punitive."

The ACLJ also has filed amicus briefs in two other terrorism cases involving Yasir Hamdi and Jose Padilla - two enemy combatants. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in those cases on April 28.

The American Center for Law and Justice, based in Washington, D.C., specializes in constitutional law and remains committed to upholding the integrity of our constitutional system of government based on the separation of powers.
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Date:Apr 20, 2004
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