By Basil Katz
NEW YORK, Oct 2 (Reuters) - A federal court has agreed to
hear an appeal by the United States government of a judge's
ruling that blocked the indefinite military detention of
The ruling by U.S District Judge Katherine Forrest in
Manhattan had found unconstitutional part of a statute that
authorizes indefinite military detention for people deemed to
have "substantially supported" al Qaeda, the Taliban or
The Justice Department, which represents President Barack
Obama, argued that Forrest's Sept. 12 injunction barring
enforcement of a portion of the National Defense Authorization
Act's "Homeland Battlefield" provisions would harm U.S. war
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency
freeze of the ruling on Sept. 18. On Tuesday, the court said it
would consider arguments in the case on an "expedited schedule"
and extended the stay pending its decision.
"On its face, the statute does not affect the existing
rights of United States citizens or other individuals arrested
in the United States," the 2nd Circuit wrote in Tuesday's order.
"The public interest weighs in favor of granting the
government's motion for a stay."
The case stems from a lawsuit filed in January by former New
York Times war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris
Hedges and others. They said they had no assurance that their
writing and advocacy activities would not fall under the scope
of the provisions.
The United States argued that the plaintiffs had no basis to
fear being locked up for their activities and that the judge's
order interfered with the president's powers at a time of war.
In agreeing to hear the appeal, judges Denny Chin, Raymond
Lohier and Christopher Droney said all legal briefs must be
submitted by mid-December. Oral argument would be scheduled soon
after, the judges said.
Carl Mayer, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said they
disagree with the decision to stay the case but that "the
appeals court is obviously taking this very seriously."
The cases are Hedges v. Obama, U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York, No. 12-cv-331, and Hedges v.
Obama, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-3176.
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