Constitution goes on trial in Padilla case

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2003

One of the most important legal cases in U.S. history is before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. At stake is nothing less than the rule of law and the freedoms Americans hold dear.

Former Lauderhill resident Jose Padilla has been in a naval brig for more than a year, held as an ''enemy combatant'' under an executive order signed by President Bush in November 2001. The order authorizes military tribunals to try defendants in terrorism-related cases. Padilla is suspected of plotting to set off a radiological bomb in the United States.

He has not been formally charged. He has not had access to a lawyer. He has not been able to challenge his detention in a civilian court, because Bush's order expressly states that ''the individual shall not be privileged to seek any remedy or maintain any proceeding, directly or indirectly, in any court of the United States.''

''Privileged''? Since when is the opportunity to seek a remedy in court a privilege and not a right? ...

The appellate court has been asked to decide whether Padilla has the right to meet with a lawyer to challenge his detention. It's important to note that he is a U.S. citizen, and that after Bush signed his executive order, Attorney General John Ashcroft assured everyone that military tribunals would not be used to try U.S. citizens. ...

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale

Aug 12

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