RealNews

Court Accepts Case of 'Dirty Bomb' Suspect

Decisions by Justices This Spring Are Expected to Clarify Scope of President’s Powers in Wartime. The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will rule on a crucial — and fiercely debated — element of President Bush’s legal strategy in the war against terrorism: his assertion of authority to declare U.S. citizens captured on American soil “enemy combatants” and detain them indefinitely without charges or access to counsel. In a brief order, the justices said they would hear the administration’s appeal of a ruling by a federal appeals court that invalidated the president’s June 2002 decision to detain as an enemy combatant Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago on suspicion of involvement in an al Qaeda bomb plot. The justices outlined an expedited briefing schedule that would enable them to hear the case by the last week of April and decide it by July. Though expected, the court’s decision nonetheless has dramatic implications. Now, all the elements are in place for a series of Supreme Court rulings this spring that will define the power of the commander in chief during wartime — and bring an election-year climax to the national debate over civil liberties and public safety that has been simmering since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Full Story

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