First Amendment

Appeals Court Hears Case of Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor Fired by Library of Congress for Op-Eds


A federal appeals court on Thursday considered the First Amendment case of Guantanamo’s former chief prosecutor, who was fired by the Library of Congress for his “provocative tone” in two newspaper opinion pieces.

A lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union argued on behalf of retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Associated Press reports.

Davis had written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and a letter to the Washington Post criticizing the Obama administration for trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts and some before military tribunals, according to Washington Post coverage in 2009.

“It will establish a dangerous legal double standard that gives some detainees superior rights and protections, and relegates others to the inferior rights and protections of military commissions,” he wrote for the Wall Street Journal. In the Washington Post letter, Davis said that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey had engaged in “fear-mongering worthy of former vice president Dick Cheney” when he raised security concerns about civilian trials.

Davis’ supervisors at the library’s Congressional Research Service said he was fired because his writings would hamper his ability to work at an agency that is known for its objectivity in preparing nonpartisan reports for Congress.

ACLU lawyer Aden Fine argued Davis wrote the opinion pieces as a private citizen and he had a First Amendment right to do so.

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