Midyear Meeting 2009

Detainee Rights Measure Passed by ABA House

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The ABA’s policymaking House of Delegates this morning passed a measure calling on federal courts to grant detainees rights as habeas petitioners.

It also called for individuals who are not enemy combatants to be resettled in other nations. And it urged that individuals who are charged with violations of criminal law be tried in Article III federal courts, unless the Attorney General certifies that they must be tried in other kinds of federal tribunals, such as courts marshal or a yet-to-be-created national security tribunal.

Fernando A. Bohorquez Jr., of Baker Hostetler in Manhattan, characterized the measure as “a timely, basic reaffirmation of the rule of law as it applies to Guantanamo.”

“Not only is Recommendation 10A the right thing to do, but now is the time to do it. We should be engaged in the dialogue from the beginning. We would be remiss not to capitalize on this opportunity. The president – a lawyer and a constitutional law professor, no less – will want to know what the ABA has to say” about how to deal with enemy combatants, he said.

Albert C. Harvey, of Memphis, Tenn., who chairs the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, was one of a series of speakers calling for a delay on the measure for additional time to study it, noting that there had been four versions of the resolution in the past four days.

Measure 10A, as revised, passed on an overwhelming voice vote.

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