Padilla Wants High Court Ruling

From Associated Press

Lawyers for Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years, said Friday he wanted to stay in military custody until the Supreme Court decided whether to hear his challenge to President Bush’s power to detain Americans with the nation at war.

The lawyers urged the high court to reject a request filed Wednesday by Solicitor General Paul D. Clement seeking Padilla’s immediate transfer from the custody of the military to law enforcement authorities in Florida.

The Bush administration wants the high court to overturn last week’s decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to transfer Padilla and criticized the government’s tactics in the lengthy case.

The 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, Va., took the administration to task for using one set of facts before the courts to justify Padilla’s detention without charges and another to persuade a grand jury in Miami to indict him last month on terrorism-related charges.

“What the government clearly wants is for this court to reject the 4th Circuit’s strong criticism of the government’s conduct,” Padilla’s lawyers wrote in a response requested by the high court.


Padilla’s lawyers accused the administration of trying to bypass normal judicial procedures. By getting Padilla transferred quickly to civilian custody, they argue, the government is trying to bolster its argument that his broader challenge of presidential power is moot.

They said the high court “should not decide in a matter of hours or days” such constitutional questions. Padilla’s lawyers asked the justices to put off the transfer issue until they discussed in mid-January whether to hear Padilla’s overall challenge to Bush’s authority.