Friday, March 6, 2009

SCOTUS Dismisses Al-Marri, Vacates Fourth Circuit Ruling

Reuters, the ACLU, and SCOTUSblog are all reporting that the Supreme Court has vacated the Fourth Circuit's ruling in Al-Marri, and remanded the case back to the circuit court to dismiss it as moot. This is the outcome that most expected. Some hoped, as did I, that the Supreme Court would move on with the case, but I think the mootness argument was too strong especially given the similarity between this case and Padilla. The ACLU, which was part of Al-Marri's team of legal counsel, says that this isn't the ideal outcome, but that vacating the Fourth Circuit ruling is an important victory. While I agree that vacating the previous ruling is important I don't think that the Supreme Court's dismissal is a huge blow to those wishing to strike down the power complained of in Al-Marri. The executive branch still has the power to hold prisoners like they held Al-Marri. Whether the Obama administration decides to exercise that power again remains to be seen, but remember that in their filings to the Supreme Court the explicitly mentioned the posibility of redesignating Al-Marri and sending him back to military detention. Statements like that show that they are not going to rule out using this power again.

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